Tablet-based screening improves continence management in multiple sclerosis

Study about the use of a tablet application to improve management of MS patients’ bowel and bladder symptoms via Ann Clin Transl Neurol 

Objective

To investigate whether electronic continence questionnaires aid early identification and optimizes management of sphincter dysfunction in a multiple sclerosis clinic.

Methods

A custom designed, tablet-based cross-platform software tool was designed to capture validated multiple sclerosis (MS) patient-reported outcomes. An unselected cohort of MS patients from a tertiary referral clinic completed electronic tablet-based versions of the Bladder Control Scale (BLCS) and the Bowel Control Scale in the waiting room. Data were captured wirelessly “on-the-fly” and stored in a deidentified, secure database; and individual questionnaire results were immediately available to the treating neurologist in the electronic medical record. Scores of ≥2 on either questionnaire generated an automated electronic referral to the clinic MS continence nurse (MS CN).

Results

One hundred and fifty-seven MS patients completed a total of 184 electronic continence test sets and on two occasions only the BLCS was completed. An automatic electronic referral for formal continence review was generated 128 times in 108 patients. Fifty-seven formal continence assessments were undertaken by the MS CN following automated referral. All reviews resulted in at least one clinical intervention being made.

Interpretation

Tablet-based data capture and automated continence referral using this software tool is an efficient, sensitive, and feasible method of screening MS patients for bladder and bowel dysfunction. Concordance with the results of formal continence assessment in this pilot study validates the use of this technology as a screening tool.

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