October 31, 2023

WDIV Local 4 Features Dr. Brian Callaghan

On Detroit's NBC Local News, Brian Callaghan, MD, was interviewed about his recent study that looked at the burden of travel to neurology appointments.

From ClickOnDetroit:

University of Michigan Health study: More people traveling for critical care

Karen Drew, Anchor/Reporter

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Dementia and stroke are just two of the many conditions that require multiple appointments with a neurologist.

A new study from the University of Michigan finds many patients travel great distances to get the specialized care they need. Experts said that can hurt patients in the long run.

“One in five patients roughly have to travel a pretty long distance greater than 50 miles to see their neurologist. And so that indicates that there is a pretty substantial burden to patients,” said Dr. Brian Callaghan, a neurologist and researcher at Michigan Medicine.

He said that burden can make patients less likely to return for crucial follow-up visits.

“That can be very difficult for them depending, especially if they’re very disabled, from their neurologic disease, but also, it might prevent them from coming to a second visit, or a third visit and fourth visit,” Callaghan said. “And that continuity of care can be so critical when we’re dealing with these chronic neurologic problems.”

Patients in rural areas and those with diseases like cancer or ALS were more likely to travel further for neurology appointments. Roughly 7% of patients in the study were even crossing state lines for an appointment.

Callaghan said there are more options today to increase access to neurologic care.

“One of the solutions is teleneurology, which is something that we’re much more familiar with now after the pandemic. And so that can really make it quite easy for someone who would otherwise have to travel hundreds of miles to be able to see a neurologist in the comfort of their own home,” Callaghan said. “And number two is the ability of neurologists in rural areas to communicate with specialized neurologists and bigger centers, through lots of means like e-consults phone consults or other remote second opinions.”

Callaghan said many of those follow-up appointments are to make sure patients are on the right medications at the right dosage and to monitor a patient for any changes that could mean a change in treatment is needed for crucial care they don’t want patients to miss because of the burden of travel.