April 11, 2021, marks World Parkinson’s Disease Day. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, and there is an enormous healthcare burden. Researchers are making progress in numerous areas, by improving the quality of care and the discovering the root causes while hoping for an eventual cure. However managing Parkinson’s Disease proves to be challenging as it requires numerous medical specialists, devoted caregivers, significant logistical and financial costs, and is draining on the patient. However, many patients do not have access to this level of care, so providing avenues to access appropriate care will not only improve patient outcomes and satisfaction but also allow more effective management of this chronic disease and benefit the health care system at large (Wilkinson et al., 2016). Furthermore, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, chronically ill patients suffered from impaired mental health, compromised physical activity, and poorer quality of life.
Recently, telemedicine has been increasingly adopted for managing Parkinson’s Disease patients, owing to the rising burden, limited availability of specialists, recent evidence of its applicability, and advances in technology (Shalash et al., 2020). Telemedicine’s combination of easy-to-use technology, combined use of synchronous and asynchronous programs, and previous in-person visits allows it to be very effective when treating patients.
“We have previously demonstrated that the vast majority of the standard Parkinson’s disease examination, which includes visual assessments of tremor and gait, can be performed remotely and closely correlates with in-person assessments,” Dorsey and Biglan say. The physicians can follow patients remotely over time much as they do in a clinical setting, assessing treatment response and complications by asking patients how they feel and by conducting a remote-focused neurological exam (Today’s Geriatric Medicine, 2020).
According to a randomized controlled clinical study performed in 2016, there is greater satisfaction for the telehealth modality was found in assessments of convenience and accessibility/distance. Clinical outcomes were similar between groups, travel burden was reduced using telehealth, and health care utilization was largely similar in both groups (Wilkinson et al., 2016). Thus, digital health solutions can be seen as a way to reduce the burden on both providers and patients and act as an excellent supporting tool to improve the quality of life for patients.
Moreover, a study performed in Egypt in 2020 has shown that through telemedicine on average 270 minutes can be saved, 76 km of travel per patient can be prevented (Shalash et al., 2020). Overall, virtual visits enable providers to give patients proper care through comprehensive assessments, adjustments of medications, and delivery of medications.
However, it is important to understand the potential barriers to entry with the new technology. To ensure long-term sustainability in your clinic verify if your patients have stable internet connectivity, knowledge/resources on how to use the technology, promotion of public awareness, availability of well-organized services, formulation of regulations, and reimbursement.
How does it work?
Patients can utilize secure HIPAA-compliant Web-based video conferencing software that requires only an Internet-connected computer and a webcam. To learn more about how to implement telehealth properly or how Porton Health’s virtual care system works, contact us to find a solution that solves your needs.
Telemedicine Effectively Treats Parkinson’s Patients. (2020). Today’s Geriatric Medicine. https://www.todaysgeriatricmedicine.com/news/ex_021814.shtml
Wilkinson, J. R., Spindler, M., Wood, S. M., Marcus, S. C., Weintraub, D., Morley, J. F., Stineman, M. G., & Duda, J. E. (2016). High patient satisfaction with telehealth in Parkinson disease. Neurology: Clinical Practice, 6(3), 241–251. https://doi.org/10.1212/cpj.0000000000000252
Shalash, A., Fathy, M., Dawood, N. L., & Hamid, E. (2020). Adopting Virtual Visits for Parkinson’s Disease Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic in a Developing Country. Frontiers in Neurology, 11, 1. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2020.582613