Title

Toward a low-cost, in-home, telemedicine-enabled assessment of disability in multiple sclerosis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

10-1-2019

Journal

Multiple Sclerosis Journal

Volume

25

Issue

11

DOI

10.1177/1352458518793527

Keywords

digital health; disability; multiple sclerosis; remote trials; Telemedicine

Abstract

Background: Remote assessment of neurological disability in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) could improve access to clinical care and efficiency of clinical research. Objective: To develop and validate a telemedicine-based MS disability examination that does not require an in-home examiner. Methods: Adults with MS were recruited after a standardized in-person Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) evaluation, and within 1 week underwent a blinded televideo-enabled EDSS examination with a different clinician. EDSS and tele-EDSS scores were compared. Results: Overall, 41 adults participated (mean (standard deviation (SD)) age: 47.0 years (11.6); median EDSS: 2 (range: 0–7)); 37 required no in-home assistance for the tele-EDSS evaluation (e.g. help positioning camera). Mean difference between EDSS and tele-EDSS was 0.34 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.07–0.61). For 88% of evaluations, tele-EDSS and EDSS scores were within 1 point (similar to reported in-person inter-rater differences). Unweighted kappa for agreement within 0.5 point was 0.72. Correlation for individual functional systems (FS) ranged from modest (vision: 0.37) to high (bowel/bladder: 0.79). Overall correlation between EDSS and tele-EDSS was 0.89 (p < 0.0001); and 0.98 (p < 0.0001) at EDSS range: 4–7. Conclusion: In this proof of principle study, disability evaluation in mild to moderate MS is feasible using telemedicine without an aide at the patient’s location.

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