Telecare improves chronic pain management

For patients suffering from chronic musculoskeletal pain, telecare intervention may be a way to help them improve their pain score, according to newly published research.

Patients who received 12 months of care management through telecare were nearly twice as likely to report a 30 percent improvement in their pain, according to the study, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Chronic musculoskeletal pain, according to the study's authors, is among the "most prevalent, costly, and disabling medical disorders."

The study examined the use of automated symptom monitoring, in which patients would report their pain levels through interactive voice-recorded telephone calls or online. The patients would meet with a nurse to develop a treatment plan and the nurse would monitor the reports over 12 months and contact the patient to adjust the type or dose of medication the patient needed.

The intervention group's pain score was lowered by about 1 pain point, which is considered clinically important, according to the study. 

The study underscores the ways in which telehealth and telecare can improve quality of care for patients. Regulations are helping to make telehealth a growing field--including a proposal on expanded telehealth services made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and efforts to ease licensing requirements by the Federation of State Medical Boards.

However, even with studies showing the merits of telehealth and new regulations making it easier to adopt, doctors are not overwhelmingly embracing the tech. Almost 60 percent of doctors said they were not considering using telehealth technologies, according to the recent Physicians Practice 2014 Technology Survey.

To learn more:
- check out the study