Longitudinal surveys conducted via HeRO™, Healint’s proprietary real-world patient insights platform, reveal that 84% would choose telemedicine if it was available, with a preference for follow-up consultations A 9-month follow-up questionnaire was sent to evaluate changes in patients’ expectations and experience with teleconsultation The main advantages of the teleconsultation format are in helping patients explain their conditions more effectively and improving their access to nurses and admin support However, certain patients shared that telemedicine made it harder to obtain reimbursement from their insurance providers and to switch to new medications, highlighting a gap in the patient journey
SINGAPORE, Nov. 11, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A new white paper from healthcare analytics platform provider Healint shows that most patients with migraine and other comorbidities had positive experiences with telemedicine, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. These findings were based on a survey of users in Healint’s Migraine Buddy app, a highly rated headache and migraine tracking app recommended by neurologists.
Though it has been available for decades, telemedicine saw a surge in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, with research from McKinsey reporting a 38-times increase compared to the pre-pandemic baseline. For patients managing migraine, the pandemic was a double-edged sword, causing a spike in the proportion of stress-related migraines after COVID-19 was declared a national emergency in the US while imposing restrictions on in-person consultations.
To examine the impact that telemedicine had on migraine patients during the pandemic, Healint used their HeRO™ real-world patient insights platform to survey Migraine Buddy users on their experiences over two periods, November to December 2020 and July to September 2021, to understand how patients’ expectations of telemedicine were addressed during the COVID-19 pandemic. They found that although roughly a third of the 2,940 users surveyed had never tried telemedicine, over 80% said that they would choose telemedicine if it were available.
Similar to a randomized clinical trial assessing the effectiveness of telemedicine for migraine management, the results showed that telemedicine was positively perceived through almost every aspect of the patient journey, from appointment scheduling to receiving a diagnosis. While 63% felt that their treatment during teleconsultation was as good as traditional face-to-face consults and 6% even felt that teleconsultations were superior, a sizeable patient population (31%) preferred face-to-face consultations.
In the follow up survey of 1,087 users in 2021, the top benefit reported was being able to explain their symptoms effectively, with 76% saying that it was as easy or easier to explain their conditions to their healthcare providers over teleconsultation. Meanwhile, 72% said that their access to nursing and administrative support was just as good or even better during a teleconsultation.
On the flip side, the patient experience in the post-consultation aspects were poorer for telemedicine consultations. For example, 42% and 39% of the survey respondents respectively reported that it was more difficult to obtain insurance reimbursement and switch to new medications when they used teleconsulting. The latter is particularly important for migraine patients, as they often need to try several types of medication before finding a suitable therapy and numerous medications have recently been approved for the prevention or treatment of migraine.
Despite this survey being conducted in Migraine Buddy, the findings are of relevance to non-migraine conditions as almost half of the respondents reported 3 to 5 comorbidities (anxiety, depression). In this regard, the benefit of teleconsultation with out-of-state providers during COVID-19 may have helped patients seek the right specialist, as 24.4% reported having completed a session with a healthcare provider who is not in the same state.
“While our results were heartening in that they showed that patients managing neurological and chronic pain conditions are enthusiastic about trying out telemedicine and that their experiences with it are largely positive, this study also highlights the potential gaps in the existing patient journey,” said François Cadiou, CEO of Healint. “Studies like these that allow us to hear directly from patients are critical in helping us pinpoint the pain points and identifying priority areas for making telemedicine as patient-centric as possible.”
Healint Pte Ltd is a leading healthcare technology company that is transforming how patients manage chronic pain and how companies conduct clinical trials. Leveraging the latest innovations in software, data science and user experience design, Healint puts healthcare in the hands of patients and empowers them to be active participants in the discovery of new treatments. The company’s first global program—the Migraine Buddy platform and its apps—has over three million engaged users.