The increase in telemedicine use during the COVID-19 pandemic increased access to multispecialty care for patients with MS, and
many expressed a preference for telemedicine for most or all of their MS care, according to findings published in Telemedicine and e-Health. Mitchell Wallin, MD, MPH, and colleagues surveyed 762 people with MS about use of in-person and telemedicine services pre-pandemic (January-February 2020) and during the COVID-19 pandemic (September November 2020). Prior to the pandemic, most patients said they didn’t use telemedicine because providers did not offer remote visits. During the pandemic, in-person healthcare decreased, from 100% to approximately 78%, and telemedicine use increased (25% to approximately 80%). About one-half of patients (41% to 57%) noted a preference for telemedicine for some or most/all of their MS care. Before the pandemic, tele medicine utilization was greatest for primary care; during the pandemic, utilization was highest for general MS care. Mental health telemedicine encounters also increased during the pandemic. “Maintaining the policy changes that enabled remote healthcare to expand during the pandemic will be critical for sustained access to MS specialty care for this vulnerable population,” Dr. Wallin and colleagues wrote.