Study proves reliability of videoconferencing for MND appointments

woman typing on a laptop

June 2020: Centre researchers have found that appointments via videoconference are as effective as face-to-face appointments, and that people with MND are keen to use videoconference for future consultations.

Many people with motor neurone disease (MND), particularly those living in remote areas, face troublesome commutes to access specialist care and to participate in research. Researchers from the Euan MacDonald Centre and the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic recently conducted a study on the reliability of using videoconferencing to assess people with MND.

Participants were from across the Scottish mainland and remote islands, and had a range of disability levels. They were recruited via the Scottish MND register which is part of the CARE-MND platform.

The team conducted assessments with research participants using the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) functional rating scale. This is a clinical tool used to assess whether there is functional change in someone with ALS (MND) i.e. handwriting, swallowing etc. The study proved that assessing someone with MND over videoconferencing was as effective as assessments conducted face-to-face. 

Participants commented positively on the convenience, reduction in travel time and flexibility of timing and location associated with videoconferencing. All participants were keen to use videoconferencing for future consultations.

The researchers commented that using videoconferencing for research studies also helps people to take part who may not otherwise be able join, for example, those with severe disability and those living remotely. It also enables local therapists and relatives living separately to attend the consultation. Additionally, videoconferencing offers several practical advantages: researchers found that the ability to type free text improved the ease of communication for some participants and that people using assistive communication devices were able to use the chat facility in conjunction with their devices.

Despite the many benefits associated with videoconferencing consultations, 35% of participants in this study felt that face-to-face consultations remain an important part of their care. Others reported that they did not feel comfortable discussing sensitive topics, such as end-of-life care, via videoconferencing or commented on the lack of "touch".

Videoconferencing is currently being used in the Anne Rowling Clinic as part of the MND-SMART clinical drugs trial and for some NHS appointments.

Related links

The Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic


Published Research Paper - Excellent reliability of the ALSFRS-R administered via videoconferencing: a study of people with motor neuron disease in Scotland



Image credit: Violeta Stoimenova via Getty Images

This article was published on: Monday, June 29, 2020