BACKGROUND: The expansion of neuromodulation and its indications has resulted in hundreds of thousands of patients with implanted devices worldwide. Because all patients require programming, this growth has created a heavy burden on neuromodulation centers and patients. Remote point-of-care programming may provide patients with real-time access to neuromodulation expertise in their communities.
OBJECTIVE: To test the feasibility of remotely programming a neuromodulation device using a remote-presence robot and to determine the ability of an expert programmer to telementor a nonexpert in programming the device.
METHODS: A remote-presence robot (RP-7) was used for remote programming. Twenty patients were randomly assigned to either conventional programming or a robotic session. The expert remotely mentored 10 nurses with no previous experience to program the devices of patients assigned to the remote-presence sessions. Accuracy of programming, adverse events, and satisfaction scores for all participants were assessed.
RESULTS: There was no difference in the accuracy or clinical outcomes of programming between the standard and remote-presence sessions. No adverse events occurred in any session. The patients, nurses, and the expert programmer expressed high satisfaction scores with the remote-presence sessions.
CONCLUSION: This study establishes the proof-of-principle that remote programming of neuromodulation devices using telepresence and expert telementoring of an individual with no previous experience to accurately program a device is feasible. We envision a time in the future when patients with implanted devices will have real-time access to neuromodulation expertise from the comfort of their own home.
*Neuromodulation and Remote Medicine Program, Capital Health Division of Neurosurgery, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
‡Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Correspondence: Ivar Mendez, MD, PhD, Division of Neurosurgery, QEII Health Sciences Centre, Halifax Infirmary, #3806-1796 Summer Street, Halifax, NS B3H 4H7 Nova Scotia, Canada. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Received May 23, 2012
Accepted September 14, 2012