Telemedicine as a path to bridging inequities in patients with epilepsy

Ruta Yardi, Christopher J. McLouth, Sally Mathias, Lara Jehi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Access to epilepsy specialist care is not uniform in the USA, with prominent gaps in rural areas. Understanding the reasons for nonattendance at epilepsy appointments may help identify access hurdles faced by patients. This study was undertaken to better understand clinic absenteeism in epilepsy and how it may be influenced by telemedicine. Methods: In this retrospective study, social determinants of health were collected for all adult patients scheduled in epilepsy clinic, as either an in-person or telemedicine appointment, at University of Kentucky between July 2021 and December 2022. The primary outcome measure was attendance or absence at the appointment. Subgroup analyses were done to better understand the drivers of attendance at telemedicine visits and evaluate telemedicine utilization by underserved populations. Results: A total of 3025 patient encounters of in-person and telemedicine visits were included. The no-show rate was significantly higher for in-person visits (32%) compared with telemedicine visits (20%, p <.001). A nominal logistic regression model identified seven factors increasing risk of absenteeism, including in-person visits, prior missed appointments, longer lead times to appointment, Medicaid/Medicare as payors, no significant other, lower mean annual income, and minority race. For each $10 000 increase in mean annual income, the odds of missing the appointment decreased by 8% (odds ratio =.92, 95% confidence interval =.89–.96, p <.001). Forty-one percent of underserved population opted for telemedicine visits, and they had a lower no-show rate (22%) as compared with in-person visits (33%, p <.001). Predictors of no-shows to televisits (1382) included Medicare/Medicaid coverage (as opposed to private insurance), no significant others, and a history of missing appointments. Significance: Telemedicine is effective at improving attendance, overcoming socioeconomic hurdles, and widening access to epilepsy care, particularly among underserved populations. Access to telecare depends on insurance coverage and emphasizes the need to include telemedicine in insurance plans to ensure uniform access to high-quality epilepsy care, irrespective of socioeconomic status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3238-3245
Number of pages8
JournalEpilepsia
Volume64
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 International League Against Epilepsy.

Keywords

  • epilepsy care
  • health inequities
  • health policy
  • no-show
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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