AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog

Telemedicine Can Improve Quality Of Care For Parkinson’s Patients

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the University of Rochester Medical Center have found that in-person and virtual care patients rated their experiences about the same, although “in-person” patients reported slightly higher satisfaction than patients who’d been treated online. Delivering healthcare using telemedicine conferencing tools can be just as effective as in-person appointments for patients with Parkinson’s disease, according to the study recently published online in JAMA Neurology.

“If this proof-of-concept study is affirmed, the findings open the door to a new era where anyone anywhere can receive the care he or she needs,” said study leader Ray Dorsey, M.D., M.B.A., an associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center.

Telemedicine is showing to be particularly valuable to patients in rural and underserved areas of the country where access to chronic disease specialists is limited. Having access to neurologists is vital to the ongoing management of Parkinson’s disease. “Right now half the people in the world with Parkinson’s disease are suffering needlessly because they aren’t receiving care from a neurologist. So rather than asking older individuals with a disabling condition to come to an urban medical center to receive care, we’re saying let’s bring the care directly to the patients,” said Dorsey.

The National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) is also working to facilitate virtual Parkinson’s disease care by demonstrating that telemedicine can be very effective in delivering care to not only the Parkinson’s community but also to patients suffering from chronic heart disease and Multiple Sclerosis. The goal of NPF is to identify, from a broad patient advocacy perspective, how federal and state policies can be updated to better support telemedicine as an option for those who need specialized care. For patients suffering from chronic illnesses, telemedicine has the potential to be a very valuable service in terms of quality of life and better management of symptoms.

Amy Comstock Rick, Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) CEO, believes telemedicine could make a tremendous difference in the lives of people with Parkinson’s. “Seeing a neurologist or movement disorder specialist makes a world of difference for someone living with Parkinson’s,” she said.  “Unfortunately, this may mean driving for hours and hours to see one, if there even is a specialist in their state.  We’re exploring issues around telemedicine policy to determine where we can have a real impact on behalf of the Parkinson’s community,” she said.

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