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Challenges in Utilizing Telehealth for Chronic Pain

HumanInsight Challenges in Utilizing Telehealth for Chronic Pain

Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2022 Jun 25. doi: 10.1007/s11916-022-01067-1. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Chronic pain in the USA has presented with higher prevalence rates among women, older adults, those unemployed, living in poverty, living in rural environments, and adults with public health insurance. The COVID-19 pandemic has heavily played into the biopsychosocial model of pain. Consequently, greater impacts have affected patients with mood disorders, opioid abuse, and chronic pain. Concurrently, telemedicine has become a popular vehicle during the COVID-19 pandemic in continuing to provide quality patient care. The purpose of this article is to review the benefits and challenges related to the delivery of telemedicine for patients with chronic pain.

RECENT FINDINGS: The benefits of telemedicine have been examined from patient psychosocial and convenience factors as well in relation to medical practice efficiency. Within chronic pain management, one of telemedicine's most effective utilization is seen via post-injection follow-up and assessment of further necessary interventions. Challenges also exist in this framework, from lack of physical examination and convenient close therapeutic monitoring and drug screening, to technological and resource cost capabilities of older and disadvantaged chronic pain patients, to barriers in establishing patient-provider rapport. During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth services were covered at rates comparable to in-person visits. Health insurance coverage and payment were major barriers for implementation of telemedicine prior to the pandemic. It is difficult to predict ongoing coverage and payment of telehealth services, although the benefits in terms of access and patient satisfaction have clearly been demonstrated. While telemedicine has proven to be a very useful tool with a wealth of advantages, the delivery of virtual healthcare for chronic pain poses a set of challenges that will need to be met to ensure the quality and standard of care continue to be upheld.

PMID:35751799 | DOI:10.1007/s11916-022-01067-1

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