Identifying More Telemedicine Benefits
The benefits of telemedicine are undeniable and limitless. Numerous health science programs are conducting studies of various telemedicine integrations with chronic and preventative diseases, and these studies offer insights into where and how to utilize telemedicine technology for the most benefit to patients and practitioners.
Recently, the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC,) and UCLA released findings of current telehealth studies.
Telemedicine and Parkinson’s Care Anywhere
In a study published this month in Neurology: Clinical Practice, URMC identified how caring for people with Parkinson’s can be easily initiated using in-home telemedicine.
According to senior author of the study, neurologist Ray Dorsey, MD, “More than 40 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease do not see a neurologist, placing these individuals at greater risk for poor health outcomes.” Additionally, “We have an ample supply of neurologists in the country to take care of people with Parkinson’s, but because of distance, disability, and the distribution of doctors, many patients have a difficult time seeing a specialist.”
Participants in the study were invited to receive one free telemedicine consultation in their home using downloaded secure web-based video conferencing software. Virtually all of the virtual visits resulted in treatment recommendations, and 90 percent of the participating patients expressed satisfaction with the telemedicine care. The program is being extended and will enroll an additional 200 individuals with Parkinson’s disease.
Pediatric Obesity Patients Like Telehealth
UCLA researchers set up a pilot program to provide multidisciplinary care to pediatric patients in the “Fit for Healthy Weight” program. Using a secure computer system at two participating local clinics, children and their parents were able to speak with a pediatrician, psychologist, and/or a dietician.
The results of the questionnaire indicated that 80 percent of the participants would participate in a telehealth appointment again, and of those followed, 86 percent either stabilized or decreased their BMI scores after their telehealth appointments.
Barriers Still Exist
Both studies commented on the fact that barriers to telehealth still exist, including the fact that telemedicine care is not reimbursed by Medicare, and there are restrictions in many states, which do not allow physicians to provide remote care to patients.
“Technology can equalize access to quality health care and bring much-needed services to chronically ill patients who may not otherwise receive such care because of geographic or financial reasons,” said Dorsey.
In what ways are you using telehealth to reach patients who would normally have limited access to needed care?
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences (2013, December 11). Study finds that pediatric obesity patients like telehealth services. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 12, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211185213.htm
University of Rochester Medical Center (2013, December 4). Telemedicine brings Parkinson's care to 'anyone, anywhere'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 12, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131204181811.htm