Telemedicine as beneficial as in-person visits for Parkinson's patients

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New research published online this week in JAMA Neurology aims to address the problem of the prevalent burden of neurological disorders paired with limited access to care by testing home telemedicine for patients with Parkinson's' disease.

The study, authored by researchers from Johns Hopkins University and conducted over seven months in patients' homes and outpatient clinics, tested 20 patients with Parkinson's disease with care from a specialist delivered remotely at home or in person at the clinic.

Of 27 scheduled telemedicine visits, 25 (93 percent) were completed, and of 33 in-person visits, 30 were completed (91 percent). The results did not show a change in quality of life for telemedicine patients vs. typical in-clinic patients. However, telemedicine patients, on average, were saved roughly 100 miles of travel and 3 hours of time.

While the study's authors conclude that a larger trial would be needed to show if clinical benefits of telemedicine are comparable to in-person care, they also said that the use of web-based videoconferencing to provide remote specialty care provided value to patients.

"It appears we can use the same technology Grandma uses to chat with her grandson to provide her with valuable medical care in her home," lead author Ray Dorsey, an associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in an announcement. "If this proof-of-concept study is affirmed, the findings open the door to a new era where anyone anywhere can receive the care she or he needs."

Dorsey cautioned, though, that wider use of virtual house calls does have its issues, such as current Medicare rules that don't reimburse doctors for providing remote care, and licensing issues that are disruptive to innovation.

Research published this month in the American Heart Journal highlights how underserved, non-diabetic patients in urban communities who used a telemedicine system were able to significantly lower their blood pressure compared to similar patients receiving usual care.

To learn more:
- read the study from JAMA Neurology
- read the announcement

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