June 23, 2021

Virtual Epilepsy Clinics – A Canadian Comprehensive Epilepsy Center Experience Pre-COVID and During the COVID-19 Pandemic Period

Abstract, published in Epilepsy Research

Objective: The objective of this study is to assess the role of prior experience with virtual care (through e-visits) in maintaining continuity in ambulatory epilepsy care during an unprecedented pandemic situation, comparing in person versus e-visit clinic uptake.

Methods: This is an observational study on virtual epilepsy care (through e-visits) over two years, during a pre-COVID period (14 months) continuing into the COVID-19 pandemic period (10 months). For a small initial section of patients seen during the study period a physician survey and a patient satisfaction survey were completed (n = 53). Outcomes of eVisits were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Results: Median numbers of epilepsy clinic visits conducted during the COVID-19 period (27.5 new and 113 follow up) remained similar to the median uptake during the pre-COVID period (28 new and 116 follow up). Prior experience with e-visits for epilepsy yielded smooth transition into the pandemic period, with several other advantages. The majority of eVisits were successful despite technical difficulties and major components of history and management were still easily implemented. Results from patient surveys supported that a significant amount of time and money were saved, which was in keeping with our health-economic analysis.

Conclusion: Our study is one of the first few reports of fully integrated virtual care in a comprehensive epilepsy clinic starting much before start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of our study support the feasibility of using virtual care to deliver specialized outpatient care in a comprehensive epilepsy center.

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