New international consensus standards for the timing of key stages in MS care were presented at the 4th Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) in Lisbon.
Over 150 attendees at a focused workshop – Brain Health in MS: a catalyst for a new approach to management – gave their response to what constitutes timely care.
Professor Gavin Giovannoni opened the workshop by putting forward the case for treating-to-target to maximize brain health in MS. The audience agreed that ‘time really is brain’, voting overwhelmingly in favour of treating MS actively and effectively, as happens with acute stroke. Professor Giovannoni encouraged delegates to be early adopters and pledge their support for the recommendations from Brain health: time matters in multiple sclerosis.
Dr Gisela Kobelt, a health economist, shared the results from a study looking at the burden of illness among 16 808 people with MS in Europe. She highlighted that the cost of treating high levels of disability in MS is, on average, five-fold higher than the cost of treating low levels of disability. As disease effects worsen with time, these data show the importance of early intervention to change the disease course. In addition, healthcare consumption in MS is influenced more by systems, availability of services and medical tradition than by the disease; therefore, differences between healthcare systems should be investigated as a basis for reforming current practice.
MS Brain Health research to develop quality standards that provide a benchmark for MS care worldwide was described by Professor Jeremy Hobart – both in the workshop and during an ePresentation.
The research defined ‘core’, ‘achievable’ and ‘aspirational’ standards to reflect minimum, good and high standards of MS care, respectively, providing a range of standards that every MS clinic can work towards. For example, it was agreed that all MS teams should be able to complete a diagnostic workup for MS within 2 months of referral to a neurologist (minimum standard) but that completion within 4 weeks of referral should be achievable for most MS teams; completion within 7 days would be an aspirational (high) standard.
“The standards should not be used as a means to criticize MS teams, but instead provide an opportunity for every MS clinic to strive for the highest level of care,” stressed Professor Hobart. Tools are being developed to empower people with MS and support MS services in different countries in achieving the agreed standards.
For more detail about the consensus research, download the MS Brain Health poster presented at ECTRIMS–ACTRIMS 2017 here.