Humanitarian crises and the use of teleneurology

For an interesting read, check out this report on Teleneurology from Saadi and Mateen detailing neurology referrals from Doctors without Borders delivered via a Collegium Telemedicus platform. As is so often the case with relatively new healthcare services, the report raises as many questions as it answers. If anyone reading this has utilized this system for MSF neurology consultation requests, it would be fascinating to better understand what the barriers are to referral given the relatively low numbers received. So few referrals were requested, I was reminded of the Peanuts cartoon with Lucy sitting all alone in her consultation booth awaiting the opportunity to give Psychiatry consultations for ¢5. Having provided these asynchronous telemedicine consultations myself, I must say my comfort level when offering advice to physicians located in regions where I have professional experience working and am very familiar with local clinical epidemiology, disease burden and health services capacity is quite high. In contrast, I am frankly uncomfortable when asked for my opinion on cases from regions where I lack these basic insights.

Gretchen L. Birbeck, MD, MPH

Gretchen L. Birbeck, MD, MPH

Gretchen Birbeck is a neurologist who divides her time between the US and Africa. Her US academic home is the University of Rochester where she is the Rykenboer Professor of Neurology and Research Director for the Strong Epilepsy Center with adjunct appointments in the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics and the Department of Public Health. Her additional skills in epidemiology, health services research, and tropical medicine are brought to bear during the 6-months annually she spends in Africa where she serves as Director for the Chikankata Epilepsy Care Team in rural Mazabuka, Zambia, an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Zambia and a consultant for the Paediatric Research Ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. Gretchen’s research programs are aimed at identifying opportunities to prevent or ameliorate the medical and social morbidities of common neurologic conditions in low-income, tropical settings with the ultimate goal of developing successful interventions feasible for scale up and broad implementation. She has been recognized as an Ambassador for Epilepsy by the International League against Epilepsy, a Global Health Research Ambassador by the US Paul Rogers Society, a National Outreach Scholar by the WK Kellogg Foundation and a Leader in Medicine by the American Medical Students Association.

More Posts