Benefits of Telemedicine and Access to Treatments for Multiple Sclerosis: Jai Perumal, MD


The associate professor of clinical neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine discussed the progress made in multiple sclerosis in terms of expanding access to therapies and the challenges that persist for progressive forms of the disease in the field. [WATCH TIME: 10 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 10 minutes

“Telemedicine was of big interest to me, especially regarding optimizing MS care. I strongly believe that in patients with relapsing MS, if we get the disease well controlled in the beginning, then the later part is going to be almost cruise control. But if we miss that therapeutic window of opportunity, then we are never going to catch up the amount of benefit we get from starting with the more aggressive treatments.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine became a crucial avenue for patients to receive the care that they needed instead of attending a clinic in-person to protect their health. This form of care arose as a beneficial tool for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), particularly for those who were not located near a neurologist or specialist in MS.1,2 Postpandemic, telemedicine remains an essential outlet for patients; however, some clinicians still struggle to reach rural patients with MS in rural areas.

In addition to issues with accessing clinician help, access to treatments for progressive forms of the disease is another area of important interest in the field. Despite the progress made in advancing treatments for MS, clinicians have expressed their concern for more effective treatments for patients who have progressed further into the disease state. Newer therapeutic strategies such as stem cell therapy may show promise for addressing this unmet need. Additionally, better monitoring of progression is also needed to treat the disease earlier on in its course.

Jai Perumal, MD, director of Multiple Sclerosis Service at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Queens, recently sat down with NeurologyLive® in an interview to further discuss the challenges in providing specialized care for patients with MS, particularly in remote areas. She also talked about the strategies that are being explored to address the treatment gap for progressive MS. Perumal, who also serves as the associate professor of neurology in the department of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medicine, spoke about how telemedicine plays an important role in optimizing MS care, especially for those in underserved regions.

1. Yeroushalmi S, Maloni H, Costello K, Wallin MT. Telemedicine and multiple sclerosis: A comprehensive literature review. J Telemed Telecare. 2020;26(7-8):400-413. doi:10.1177/1357633X19840097
2. Buchanan RJ, Stuifbergen A, Chakravorty BJ, Wang S, Zhu L, Kim M. Urban/rural differences in access and barriers to health care for people with multiple sclerosis. J Health Hum Serv Adm. 2006;29(3):360-375.
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