Chronic pain patients can be supported with online consultations

Chronic pain patients can be supported with online consultations
© iStock/simpson33

A new review has recommended that chronic pain patients can be supported through online consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers from the University of Bath‘s Centre for Pain have conducted a topical review that highlights how chronic pain conditions have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, which they say could have long-term consequences for patients. The review suggests telemedicine provides the opportunity for treatment through online consultations.

The review has been published in the journal Pain.

Accessing healthcare during a global pandemic

Access to healthcare professionals who can advise on physical therapy, and other forms of support such as psychological support, prescriptions, and pain killers, normally relies on in-person visits, which has been severely disrupted during the pandemic.

The researchers suggest that the shift to online web conferencing could help people access vital services during this time of crisis. They have started working with healthcare providers at all scales on how to manage this process and support patients.

Professor of Medical Psychology and Director of the Centre for Pain Research at the University of Bath, Professor Christopher Eccleston, said: “There is clearly an opportunity to reform how consultations for patients with chronic pain are delivered through new online platforms and technologies. This has come to the fore as a result of COVID-19, the immediate public health challenge we are facing and the abrupt shifts we have seen in people adopting new ways of working and interacting. Applying telemedicine to practice, which our team at Bath has assisted with, has enabled doctors to keep their doors open, in a virtual way, to patients who are desperately in need of help and support. It is having important impacts.

“Changing practice in such an unplanned way will have positive and negative consequences, many unforeseen. Systems can establish protocols that can enable them to oversee, monitor, and capture important patient and provider outcomes and perspectives. When we come to redesign services after the pandemic, we will need to share that experience and use it to learn what works, to modify what does not work, and to build new models of care for people living with chronic pain.”

The researchers suggest that the use of telemedicine to deliver healthcare is complex and needs further research regarding how it can be funded and coordinated.

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