Vol. 40 No. 3, May/June 2003
Pages 265 — 282
Telemedicine and the delivery of health services to veterans with multiple sclerosisMichael Hatzakis, Jr., MD; Jodie Haselkorn, MD, MPH; Rhonda Williams, PhD; Aaron Turner, PhD; Paul Nichol, MDVeterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, 1660 South Columbian Way, Seattle, WA; Department of
Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; Department of Internal Medicine, University
of Washington, Seattle, WAAbstract — Telemedicine involves the provision of health care and sharing of medical knowledge using telecommunications technologies. Preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic services, as well as patient education and assistance with self-management of health, can be provided via telemedicine. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has a wide range of telemedicine capabilities. Given limitations on studying its effectiveness, telemedicine is often applied to new patient populations without explicit evaluation of efficacy. Evaluating the potential use of telemedicine services through supporting literature from other disorders may be possible. This paper discusses applying telemedicine to the care of individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) when few published evaluations exist in MS. In this paper, we (1) provide a background on the use of telemedicine in the private sector and in the VHA, (2) discuss the use of current telemedicine literature to management of individuals with MS, and (3) review the strengths and limitations of telemedicine as a care delivery vehicle.Key words: cost-benefit analysis, health services, MS, multiple sclerosis, review, telemedicine, translation, veterans.