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Neurology News

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Can Telemedicine Transform Parkinson's Disease Treatment?

Is telemedicine effective for counseling Parkinson’s disease patients? Yes, according to a new case series published in the Dec. 4 online edition of Neurology: Clinical Practice. Researchers, led by E. Ray Dorsey, MD, MBA, of the University of Rochester Medical Center, offered patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in different states a free telemedicine consultation with a specialist, and then asked them to complete a satisfaction survey. Dr. Dorsey and colleagues found that a large majority of patients were satisfied with these remote visits. 

     The telemedicine visits in this case series consisted of history, neurologic examination, and recommendations. Half-way through this program (from August 2012 to May 2013), the 55 patients, who were 67.8 years old on average and resided in five different states, were asked to complete an online satisfaction survey. The recommendations provided to these patients included: exercise (86%), change current medication (63%), and add new medication (53%).

     Thirty-three of 35 consecutive patients completed the survey, and there was a more than 90% satisfaction rate for virtually all aspects of the visit measured. When compared to an in-person visit, these patients felt that they established more of a personal connection (18%), the same level of a personal connection (67%), or less of a personal connection (15%) with the specialist. 

Dr. Dorsey and colleagues concluded that providing “neurologic care to new patients with PD and related disorders directly in their home is feasible, results in recommended changes to care, and is largely well-received.” This approach to medical care may transform care and increase access for patients with various chronic neurologic conditions who may have limited mobility, resources, and other barriers to receiving treatment, they added. 

See our recent article on Dr. Dorsey’s work in telemedicine: “Can Telemedicine End the “Neurologist Gap” in Parkinson's Disease?”