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Telehealth for Chronic Pain

Biometric Telehealth and the Management of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain treatment is a highly specialized and patient-centered service that must be tailored to the specific needs of an individual. The biopsychosocial approach has proven outcomes in pain management.

Biometric telehealth is a tool that allows chronic pain patients to access evidence-based treatment remotely. Telehealth makes it easier for patients to obtain specialist services and pain rehab programs. It removes the burden of travel on patients with work-related injuries. There is improved communication and continuity of care, ultimately leading to better outcomes. Yet, many patients and physicians remain hesitant to use telehealth platforms because they feel a video consultation simply cannot recreate an office visit.

Biometric Telehealth addresses many of the concerns that individuals have with video- only platforms. It is a comprehensive remote platform that makes the patient-physician interaction an immersive experience, similar to participating in a comprehensive rehabilitation program in the clinic. Employees at a worksite or patients at home undergoing workers’ compensation evaluations can have medical-grade remote exams of the heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, throat, and skin. Providers can do pretty much everything except start an IV! In this article, we discuss some of the advantages of a biometric telehealth platform for patients with chronic pain.

Benefits of Biometric Telehealth for Patients with Chronic Pain

A biometric telehealth application can help optimize pain treatment.

Here are some of the benefits for patients with chronic pain due to conditions such as fibromyalgia, CRPS and RSD:

  • Maximizes face-to-face time.
  • Provides expert evidence-based biopsychosocial assessment and treatment.
  • Allows healthcare provider to view in real-time the patients’ condition and progress.
  • Permits the physician to communicate with the patient to provide ongoing treatment and support.
  • Allows real-time interaction with the patient’s entire healthcare team.
  • Permits medical records to be received and progress reports to be studied before consultation time.
  • Maintains patient dignity and privacy.

Conventional pain treatment options available to patients with chronic pain mostly offer short-term, partial pain relief. The biopsychosocial model is a holistic approach to chronic pain management. Whether treatment is delivered in clinic or via the Biometric Telehealth platform, the focus is on functional restoration. This approach helps maintain continuity of care, thus reducing disability and emotional distress and improving quality of life.

Biometric Telehealth Outcomes in Chronic Pain Management

Chronic pain cannot be managed with a one-dimensional medically-oriented approach. It needs a multidisciplinary approach that encompasses a biopsychosocial formulation. The pain management model we follow in the clinic at the Institutes of Health includes biomedical, cognitive, physiological, behavioral, and emotional components. Biometric telehealth makes it possible for us to offer this multi-modality treatment to chronic pain patients remotely.

But what about outcomes? Studies have shown telehealth has comparable outcomes to in-clinic pain treatment. One study compared video teleconferencing and in-person delivery of therapy among veterans with chronic pain.1, 2 The results showed that acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for 8 weeks via teleconferencing resulted in pain reduction that was comparable to in-person therapy in the clinic. A biometric telehealth platform is much more than a video consult and can help participants achieve even better outcomes.

Biometric Telehealth for Chronic Pain: A Cost Analysis

Telehealth provides patients with easy access to expert pain management physicians, irrespective of geographical location. A happy coincidence is that it also significantly reduces costs.
One study compared telehealth and in-person consultations in terms of direct and indirect patient costs.5 It was conducted over 18 months in patients undergoing chronic pain treatment. The study captured pain scores as well as patient satisfaction. The results showed that not only was patient cost substantially lower with telemedicine consultations, but that patient satisfaction was high.
Another study in Canada found that patients having telehealth consultations spent less than one hour on receiving care versus 8 hours for a traditional office consultation.6

Biometric Telehealth: A Proactive Approach to Chronic Pain Management

Chronic pain involves both physical and behavioral issues. It is common to encounter patients with coexisting conditions, for example, chronic pain and sleep problems or chronic pain and weight gain. For the best outcomes, providers need to focus on both the physical and psychological aspects of care. In the traditional method of treatment, for example, providers ask patients to fill out a survey during the monthly visit. The patient must jog their memory and describe their symptoms over the previous month. The provider then alters the care plan based on the patient’s recollection.

Compared to this, a biometric telehealth platform provides real-time remote monitoring of important health parameters, such as respiration, pulse, temperature, activity levels, sleep, glucose levels, EEG neurofeedback and heartrate. Patients can generate data on their daily routine, pain and functional levels as well as other issues like depression and stress. This type of real-time monitoring is extremely important to successfully manage patients with complex clinical pictures, such as those with chronic pain and depression. Responses can alert physicians to issues related to progress or side effects of medications. This allows the healthcare team to successfully treat patients with chronic pain and opioid dependence. Providers can monitor the data to identify trends and make changes in the treatment plan before the problems escalate. Ultimately, this deeper level of care leads to improved outcomes for chronic pain patients.

The Institutes of Health is an industry leader in Biometric Telehealth. We provide a full range of telehealth services for pain treatment, medication management, PTSD, brain injuries, sleep problems and neuropsychological evaluations, both in clinic and through our state-of-the-art biometric telehealth platform. Call us today to learn more about our programs for chronic pain management. They are cost-effective and can significantly improve outcomes for you and your patients.