Online House Calls Prove Effective for Parkinson’s Patients
A new study shows that consultations with specialists conducted via the web can be effective in caring for people with Parkinson’s disease. The findings are especially promising for people who do not live near urban and academic centers where specialists are typically located.
Published today in the journal Neurology: Clinical Practice, senior author and neurologist Ray Dorsey, M.D., M.B.A. saw more than 50 patients using secure Skype-like software. For some it was their first visit with a neurologist, while others were seeking additional medical opinions. According to the study, virtually all of the consultations resulted in treatment recommendations such as exercise, modifying or adding medications, and even discussing available surgical options.
Telemedicine holds promise for any number of conditions where the doctor’s recommendations are based on observing the patient perform tasks and on the patient’s history. These could include autism, Alzheimer’s, and even chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure and diabetes.
While faster and cheaper than a traditional visit to a specialist, telemedicine faces a number of obstacles before it can be adopted more widely. The biggest barrier may be that Medicare does not pay for remote home care. State licensing also limits where doctors can offer their services, preventing specialists from practicing via the otherwise borderless internet. The potential for fraud also looms large for any service delivered online.
The study was supported by the Verizon Foundation, Medtronic, and the website PatientsLikeMe. The software used was developed by Vidyo.
Photo: Kendrick Meek