Patients with Parkinson’s disease are used to devoting an entire day and driving long miles to be seen by a specialist. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Thanks to telemedicine, though, this could soon change. Last fall, Rush University Medical Center launched a telemedicine pilot program that allows patients to visit their physicians virtually, from the comfort of their own homes.
Diagnosing and monitoring movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, depends largely on visual observation; no diagnostic brain scans or blood tests exist. Rush is an established leader in the field, having helped define the diagnostic criteria for Parkinson’s disease decades ago. For years, Rush has relied on video recordings during patient visits to track the illness’ progression, such as a change in fine movements or in gait. Similarly, treatment of these disorders is typically chosen based on visual data regarding the patient’s function.
With such a distinguished history, it’s no surprise that Rush took the logical next step with telemedicine. Patients use their own computers at home to connect to a neurologist at Rush for a face-to-face meeting. Patients then answer the same questions and perform the same movements that they normally would in an in-person appointment. The neurologists report that they are able to assess the individual’s condition accurately, since the video medicine format transmits data at a high quality.
So far, the patients have had positive feedback, and the specialists say that during a virtual visit, the patient actually is in front of them; they’re just two-dimensional.
However, the largest advantage gleaned from this project is probably the savings in travel time. Last year, in an article published in American Journal of Managed Care, researchers noted that the total time used on a medical visit is worth more than just the money patients spend on the visit. This holds especially true for individuals with advanced movement disorders, since someone else must take the time to drive them to the office. With telemedicine, some patients no longer have to dedicate an entire day to the visit; instead, they sit in front of a computer for only 30 minutes.
With the success of this program, Rush is currently planning more telemedicine pilot projects.
We applaud Rush for their initiative in applying telemedicine as a tool, and we look forward to hearing more about their programs.
To learn how swyMed can be used as a secure video medicine platform for neurology and other areas, visit swyMed.com today!