Patient experience of telemedicine for headache care during the COVID-19 pandemic: An American Migraine Foundation survey study

Chia Chun Chiang, Rashmi Halker Singh, Nim Lalvani, Ken Shubin Stein, Deborah Henscheid Lorenz, Christine Lay, David W. Dodick, Lawrence C. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: We sought to investigate the patient experience of telemedicine for headache care during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Background: The use of telemedicine has rapidly expanded and evolved since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Telemedicine eliminates the physical and geographic barriers to health care, preserves personal protective equipment, and prevents the spread of COVID-19 by allowing encounters to happen in a socially distanced way. However, few studies have assessed the patient perspective of telemedicine for headache care. Methods: The American Migraine Foundation (AMF) designed a standardized electronic questionnaire to assess the patient experience of telemedicine for headache care between March and September 2020 to help inform future quality improvement as part of its patient advocacy initiative. The date parameters were identified as the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 disease and the declaration of a national emergency in the United States. The questionnaire was distributed electronically to more than 100,000 members of the AMF community through social media platforms and the AMF email database. Results: A total of 1172 patients responded to our electronic questionnaire, with 1098 complete responses. The majority, 1081/1153 (93.8%) patients, had a previous headache diagnosis prior to the telemedicine encounter. A total of 648/1127 (57.5%) patients reported that they had used telemedicine for headache care during the study period. Among those who participated in telehealth visits, 553/647 (85.5%) patients used it for follow-up visits; 94/647 (14.5%) patients used it for new patient visits. During the telemedicine encounters, 282/645 (43.7%) patients were evaluated by headache specialists, 222/645 (34.4%) patients by general neurologists, 198/645 (30.7%) patients by primary care providers, 73/645 (11.3%) patients by headache nurse practitioners, and 21/645 (3.2%) patients by headache nurses. Only 47/633 (7.4%) patients received a new headache diagnosis from telemedicine evaluation, whereas the other 586/633 (92.6%) patients did not have a change in their diagnoses. During these visits, a new treatment was prescribed for 358/636 (52.3%) patients, whereas 278/636 (43.7%) patients did not have changes made to their treatment plan. The number (%) of patients who rated the telemedicine headache care experience as “very good,” “good,” “fair,” “poor,” and “other” were 396/638 (62.1%), 132/638 (20.7%), 67/638 (10.5%), 23/638 (3.6%), and 20/638 (3.1%), respectively. Detailed reasons for “other” are listed in the manuscript. Most patients, 573/638 (89.8%), indicated that they would prefer to continue to use telemedicine for their headache care, 45/638 (7.1%) patients would not, and 20/638 (3.1%) patients were unsure. Conclusions: Our study evaluating the patient perspective demonstrated that telemedicine facilitated headache care for many patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in high patient satisfaction rates, and a desire to continue to use telemedicine for future headache care among those who completed the online survey.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)734-739
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • coronavirus disease 2019
  • migraine
  • patient perspective
  • patient satisfaction
  • telehealth
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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