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Telepresence Enhances Care for Parkinson’s Patients

August 24, 2011
at 12:06 pm PST

Deanna Ventura can’t drive the 343 miles from her home in upstate New York to her neurologist’s office in Baltimore. But, the telepresence connection at the nursing home near her apartment lets her doctor treat her Parkinson’s disease on a routine basis. She’s seen him in person only once in the past four years.

Sharing her story with Nancy Shute of National Public Radio (NPR), Ventura said the telemedicine program through which she receives treatment has provided her with the care she needs to control her chronic condition. There are no Parkinson’s specialists within two hours of her home, but because her doctor is among the increasing percentage of providers who embrace telepresence technology for patient care, Ventura has had the resources she needs to improve her quality of life.

According to Shute, clinical trials have proven that telemedicine provides equal, if not better, care as in-person doctor visits. Dr. Ray Dorsey, who treats Ventura, conducted a small study of Parkinson’s patients in upstate New York and found those relying on telemedicine improved their motor skills, while those visiting their doctors in person showed less positive change. He also found patients preferred the telepresence connection to their doctors because they felt the doctor spent more time with them when they met online.

As more doctors like Dorsey adopt telepresence for patient care, more and more of the 140 million Americans living with chronic conditions like Parkinson’s can gain access to the treatment and monitoring they need. Doctors in Canada have already jumped on board: our neighbors to the north have the world’s largest medical telepresence network—one that satisfies 90 percent of surveyed patients, according to Shute.

Not a bad idea, eh? We’re ready to help Americans know these telemedicine benefits too.

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