Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Telemedicine could transform treatment of patients with Parkinson's disease in rural areas

A new telemedicine project has proven effective in offering care for Parkinson’s disease patients who do not have easy access to traditional medical care, like many in rural areas. ScienceDaily reports that the project, a collaboration between the University of Rochester Medical Center and a nursing home, the Presbyterian Home for Central New York, has the potential to transform treatment for Parkinson’s.

“This study shows that we can effectively deliver care for Parkinson’s patients via telemedicine,” said URMC neurologist Ray Dorsey, one of the researchers. Prior to the study, nursing-home patients would typically travel ten times a year for Parkinson’s treatment. Using a telemedicine approach changed that system drastically; care became more accessible, elderly patients were not affected by extended travel, and doctors could still effectively diagnose and care for patients. ScienceDaily writes that the system, in the most basic sense, “is essentially low tech, low cost solution and consists of a laptop, software, and a web camera that allows the physicians to interact with and visually assess patients.”

The potential of the telemedicine approach in cost-cutting and more efficient medical care is undisputed, but current reimbursements are limited to certain regions for those who use the technology. Dr. Kevin Biglan, another researcher on the project, told ScienceDaily that expanding the practice of telemedicine is a big prospect. “Telemedicine represents a tremendous opportunity to expand access to specialized care and improve the quality of life of patients regardless of where they live." (Read more)

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