Telehealth allows migraine and headache patients to get help faster

Telehealth offers the same level of care for headaches and migraine that you receive in an in-person doctor visit, while making it easier to get an appointment.

For patients who have migraine and other headache disorders, the difficulties getting treatment are well known. Headache specialists aren’t plentiful, and patients in rural areas may need to drive hours to see a provider.

Sometimes, it just may seem easier to grit through the pain, but that’s changing.

Online migraine treatment through platforms like Norton Telehealth is making it easier to meet with a provider and cutting the wait — from months to a couple weeks, for many — to see a board-certified specialist.

“Telehealth is a service we have always wanted to provide. There have been a series of studies that have shown it to be safe and effective for patients with headache disorders,” said Brian M. Plato, D.O., FAHS, neurologist and headache specialist with Norton Neuroscience Institute.

The COVID-19 outbreak led to an expansion and acceptance of telehealth as a safer way to get medical care. For migraine patients especially, Norton Telehealth has been a timesaver that allows them to meet with their specialist online and get any prescriptions ordered.

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It also has made it easier to get an appointment. Telehealth reduces much of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into a visit. Updating the patient’s chart after the visit, for instance, is faster. Also, there are few late and missed appointments, which improves efficiency.

And each visit tends to focus more on exchanging information, leading to the same level of care in less time.

A study performed by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center tracked migraine patients throughout a calendar year and found no significant difference in patient outcomes between patients who attended in-person physician visits versus those who had online telehealth care.

Online migraine and headache treatment a ‘natural fit’

“Thankfully, advancements in telehealth have opened new doors for us to provide equally safe and effective consultation from the convenience of a virtual platform,” Dr. Plato said, adding that headaches can occur more frequently and become more difficult to treat if the patient puts off care.

“Headache disorders and telehealth are really a natural fit,” Dr. Plato said. “Many times we don’t need to conduct further exams after the first visit. We’re just following up and talking with patients to get updates on symptoms, responses to treatment, or addressing any questions or concerns they may have. A lot of this can be done pretty seamlessly in a virtual setting.”

Norton Neuroscience Institute patients have access to board-certified physicians, nurse practitioners with additional certification from the National Headache Foundation and resource centers that help educate patients and their families about diagnoses and treatments.

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