Living Like You | COVID-19, MS and the future of doctor’s appointments

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Everyone has felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there have been added difficulties for those living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). While the world navigated treating COVID-19 for the general public, the MS community was dealing with the additional worry about the potential threat of a neurological condition interacting with the virus. The effect of contracting COVID-19 on people with MS still remains speculative but the effects on the general care and treatment options have been studied[1].

The main finding is that telemedicine and virtual doctor’s appointments are becoming more common. All over the world, people saw their appointments move to virtual consultations, due to government precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While at the beginning of the pandemic this caused many concerns, the benefits of virtual appointments have been broadly seen, including:

  • limiting exposure to COVID-19 and other bacteria and infections
  • saving travel time and organization with carers or family
  • reducing fatigue and other symptoms caused by traveling
  • saving money
  • less time off work or study
  • convenience

Preparing for virtual appointments

Although virtual appointments have numerous benefits, it can also be daunting to adapt your relationship with your MS team. It is important to prepare for virtual appointments in the same way as you would prepare for a face-to-face consultation in order to make the most of the time available. For more information on how to prepare, signs of progression to watch out for and what to discuss with your doctor check out the YourMS questionnaire or hear from one of our MS experts.

When meeting your medical team virtually, here are some handy tips to help you:

  • Typically doctors have 15-20 minutes per consultation, maybe more if you are seeing a neurologist. It is helpful to ask beforehand how long the consultation will be so that you can fit in your priority questions, points and concerns without running out of time. 
  • It may not be possible for your doctor to provide all answers to your questions but having a list handy is a good way to keep you on track and ensure nothing is forgotten. Make sure you have this next to you for the consultation and maybe email over in advance to allow your doctor time to prepare for these.
  • Test your connection before the call begins. Whether it’s a phone call or online, technical difficulties could cut your consultation time in half. Test your internet and phone connection before the appointment to prevent this happening.
  • A larger percentage of patients prefer video appointments to phone calls, as they feel a more personal connection to their doctor this way. Try and arrange for a video consultation in advance as this will help with reassurance and communication by seeing your doctors’ facial expressions and body language. 

If you are struggling with the effects of COVID-19 on your MS care, reach out to your doctor and MS team for a virtual consultation to get your questions answered. For advice on how to have these conversations and guide your appointments, check out the YourMS questionnaire.

[1] MS Trust. Coronavirus, Covid-19 and multiple sclerosis. Available at: Accessed June 2021.

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