National MS Center

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Internet and Social Media Poster Presentation

P0663 - Real-time internet-based teleconsultations for neurological follow-up of patients with multiple sclerosis: an interim feasibility analysis (ID 1703)

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Internet and Social Media



Classic health care (HC) models are currently being challenged by the ‘coronavirus disease of 2019’ (COVID-19) pandemic for which social isolation and unprecedented mobility restrictions have been deployed as essential measures of constrain. Digital communication services have the potential to preserve and improve access to specialized medical facilities in a cost- and time-efficient manner. Nonetheless, studies on live interaction between patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and HC providers for neurological follow-up are still scarce. In a recent pilot project, we have shown that individual real-time audiovisual teleconsultations (TCs) over the internet are feasible and highly appreciated in patients with MS, but compliance and technical reliability over time remain to be demonstrated.


To evaluate feasibility of real-time audiovisual TCs over the internet for neurological follow-up of patients with MS.


Thirty patients with MS presenting at a specialized center in Belgium were recruited for this ongoing study, and scheduled to receive 4 TCs over the course of 12 months. Patients were provided a unique hyperlink by mail in advance, leading them automatically and directly to the virtual waiting room, where they could accept or decline our incoming call. All TCs are performed by a trained HC professional with the intention to keep the conversation similar to what is usually discussed during a classic face-to-face MS consultation. The approach will be considered feasible if at least 80% of the planned TCs can be successfully completed at the foreseen moment. We present the results of an interim analysis (July 8, 2020), when at least 2 TCs were executed in each participant. Patient satisfaction (technical quality, convenience, quality of care and added value) was evaluated via telephone by means of 5-point Likert scales containing the categories very unsatisfied, unsatisfied, neutral, satisfied and highly satisfied.


Three participants dropped out of the study due to loss of interest (2) or a broken device (1). Sixty of the 75 scheduled TCs were successfully completed (80%). Failures were due to patients not responding (7/56) or technical issues (8/56). Out of the 27 active participants, 24 responded to the telephone call for satisfaction analysis. Rates of patients declaring themselves satisfied or highly satisfied regarding the TCs were 19/24 for technical quality, 23/24 for convenience, 22/24 for quality of care and 21/24 for added value.


Real-time audiovisual TCs over the internet appear to be feasible and well-received in patients with MS. Full completion of this trial is expected early next year. Incorporation of digital communication services in routine MS practice is expected to improve access to specialized care, particularly in dire times such as the current COVID-19 crisis.