Telehealth and Trial Recruitment in Alzheimer Disease: Jessica Zwerling, MD, MS


In Alzheimer disease and dementia, Jessica Zwerling, MD, MS, director, Montefiore Hudson Valley Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease, believes normalizing trial recruitment aids and telehealth to increase participation is another way to ease delivery of care.

“The role of a primary care physician is really daunting, because you may have a patient not only that has a language barrier, but a gait disorder and cognitive impairment, so just getting to that office chair is extremely difficult. Telehealth decreases the amount of time it takes to walk from the waiting room to the examination room.”

Speaking with NeurologyLive, Jessica Zwerling, MD, MS, addressed the state of clinical trial recruitment for patients with Alzheimer disease (AD) and dementia, which has played a part in how providers remodeled care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Normalizing participation is key, Zwerling said, as well as preparing patients on an emotional level in the event they do not meet exclusion criteria. During the pandemic, experts at Montefiore Medical Center were able to deliver care via telehealth and teletherapy to patients with cognitive impairment and depression, in order to attack the 6-month mortality rate and clearly explain associated benefits of trial participation. 

Telehealth has also been of benefit to primary care physicians, in that it not only effectively minimizes the amount of travel required of patients in this population, who may have comorbidities that make it that much more difficult to attend an in-person office visit, but in its effects on time efficiency. For providers outside of specialty centers, Zwerling encouraged engaging community organizations, such as the Alzheimer’s Association or CaringKind, which are equipped with specialists trained to speak about additional trials that may be advantageous for certain patients to participate in. 

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