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Parkinson's Disease Patients Can Receive Beneficial Care Via Telemedicine

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Parkinson's Disease Patients Can Receive Beneficial Care Via Telemedicine

September 01, 2017
By Mandi Nowitz
Web Editor

Telemedicine and virtual house calls have been making huge strides in the medical field and are now extending to patients with Parkinson’s Disease. Thanks to telehealth services – videoconferencing capabilities used in the healthcare industry to allow easier and more efficient treatment of patients across distance – a neurologist can visit with his patient without the need for a physical office visit. It is most beneficial to patients who suffer from episodic conditions, while chronic is still undetermined. A publishing from Neurology stated that videoconferencing between neurologists and patients is just as effective as in-person care.

“Over 40% of people with Parkinson’s disease never receive care from a neurologist, yet studies have shown that people who see a neurologist are less likely to be hospitalized with illnesses related to Parkinson’s disease, have greater independence and are less likely to die prematurely,” according to Dr. Ray Dorsey of the University of Rochester Medical Center. Dorsey went on to conduct a one-year study with 195 individuals as a way of determining how well the concept of telemedicine can work with Parkinson’s patients and if it was “feasible, beneficial, and valuable.”

The candidates came from National Parkinson Foundation, PatientsLikeMe and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and in the end, 98 percent felt that the care did not go up nor down via videoconferencing with neurologists. An average of 88 minutes and 38 miles were saved and 55 percent preferred virtual meetings over in-office. Herein lies the problem: two-thirds of those with Parkinson’s are on Medicare and telemedicine is one practice not covered.

Dorsey further addresses this predicament: “Virtual house calls for chronic diseases like Parkinson's are not only as effective as in-person care but broader adoption of this technology has the potential to expand access to patient-centered care. We now have the ability to reach anyone, anywhere but the promise and benefits of telemedicine will not be fully realized until the changes are made in Medicare policy.”

Doctors are huge advocates for telemedicine, especially when it comes to diseases that make like virtually unbearable. According to David Shprecher, DO, Msci, a member of the American Academy of Neurology: “Virtual house calls have the potential to dramatically increase access to care for people with such a debilitating disease. The 21st Century Cures Act mandated a report on which chronic conditions could be improved most by the expansion of telemedicine. Parkinson’s disease should be considered for this report, and it should expand the definition of telemedicine to include the virtual house call.”

Edited by Erik Linask

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