This technology might come in handy to those who don’t want to haul their sick relatives with Parkinson’s all the way to a clinician for visual observation of the progress of disease. To test whether telemedicine is an appropriate option for getting patients and physicians together, and whether the technology is good enough to observe resting tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity, postural instability, and other symptoms of Parkinson’s, doctors Kevin Biglan and Ray Dorsey from University of Rochester Medical Center enrolled a group of elderly Parkinson’s patients from the Presbyterian Home for Central New York into a pilot study that has yielded promising results.
The University of Rochester explains:
Patients are brought to a room in the nursing home with a flat screen television so they can see the physicians.All the doctors in Rochester require on their end is a computer equipped with a web camera.Telemedicine “visits” are just like regular office visits and consist of an update on the patient’s health, a review of medications, any potential complications, and a standardized motor skills evaluation (balance, gait, coordination, and stiffness) conducted by the physician with the assistance of a trained nurse at the Presbyterian Home.At the end of the visit, recommendations are discussed with the patient and faxed to the nursing home.
An initial pilot project, funded by the Presbyterian Home, followed 14 patients for 6 months and then evaluated the outcomes of those who received telemedicine care with those who did not.The study found that telemedicine patients had significant improvements in quality of life and motor function.In addition, those receiving telemedicine had trends toward higher satisfaction with their care.
The project with the Presbyterian Home was so successful that Joseph decided to continue funding the effort for another year with the help of a grant from New York State. Dorsey and Biglan also hope to expand the project to other nursing homes in upstate New York.One of the key obstacles to the wider adaption of telemedicine for Parkinson’s and other diseases is payment for services.While studies of other projects have shown that telemedicine can reduce the overall cost of care, current reimbursement is limited to specific regions (for example, it excludes New Hartford as not sufficiently rural) and generally does not cover the cost of care provided.
Press release: Telemedicine Expands Reach of Care for Parkinson’s Patients…