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Telemedicine or in-person care for Parkinson’s Disease?

The surprising finding comes from the University of Rochester Medical Center and it demonstrates that telemedicine can deliver quality care for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Here medical advice is delivered to patient in their homes via video conferencing. The study is based on a survey by neurologists, and it points to a new way, harnessing digital technology, to improve care for people, especially for patients who do not have not have access to a neurologist. The study also stems the way for other analyses looking at the benefits of telemedicine and will be of interest to digital health providers.

Telemedicine is a general term for the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology. Healthcare providers are interested in the technology as a means to overcome distance barriers and to improve access to medical services, especially for patients residing in distant rural communities. While the technology can undoubtedly reach, some medics have expressed concerns about the effectiveness of such an approach, highlighting decreased human interaction between medical professionals and patients and an increased risk of error. Proponents state that telemedicine can, in addition to extending reach, significantly reducing the overall cost of medical care.

In a new study, Dr. Ray Dorsey, who is the David M. Levy Professor of Neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, concludes that telemedicine is effective at treating neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. In a research note he states: “”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.”

This assessment is based on the analysis of the Connect.Parkinson project, a research study involving Parkinson’s disease patients. Those with the condition find travel difficult and most movement disorder specialists are located in academic medical centers in large urban areas, meaning that access is very limited for those who live in rural areas. The assessment was made by cross-comparing telemedicine with in-patient visits. The study is published in the journal Neurology, under the heading “National randomized controlled trial of virtual house calls for Parkinson disease.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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