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Examining the clinical benefits of "virtual" house calls for Parkinson's patients

Past research has shown that telemedicine can help reduce health disparities between rural and urban areas and be as effective as in-office visits for diagnosing and treating dermatology conditions. Now findings recently published in JAMA Neurology suggest that "virtual" house calls for Parkinson's patients provide clinical benefits comparable to seeing a physician in person.

In the small study, researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Rochester Medical Center randomly selected patients with Parkinson's disease to participate in three web-based conferencing sessions while the rest of the group visited a physician's office over seven months. According to a university release:

At the end of the seven months, the researchers measured the patients' perception of their quality of life and the level of care they were receiving. They found that the patients who received virtual house calls did as well as those who received in-person care.

The researchers also measure the economic value of allowing individuals to receive care in their own homes. They found that the average telemedicine visit lasted 53 minutes from beginning to end. In contrast, patients who received in-person care spent an average of 255 minutes per visit when factoring in the trip to and from the doctor’s office for a total of 100 miles and 3 hours of travel time over the seven months duration of the study.

Researchers commented on the significance of the findings saying they "demonstrate that quality specialized care can be effectively delivered to individuals in remote locations." But, they also noted several barriers to telemedicine becoming widespread such as licensing and reimbursement requirements.

Previously: FCC allocates $400 million in funding to develop and expand telemedicine, Telemedicine takes root in the Midwest, How a Stanford dermatologist is using telemedicine to reach underserved populations in California and Can telemedicine work for dermatology patients?

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