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Can Free Video Consults Make Parkinson’s Care Better?

by NANCY SHUTE, www.npr.org

Why, you might ask, would a hoity-toity medical institution like Johns Hopkins be offering up free Web-based consults for people with Parkinson’s disease?

To prove that it works.

Ray Dorsey, director for the Johns Hopkins Movement Disorders Center, is on a mission to convince America that videochats with doctors are as good or better than the traditional office visit.

It’s a tough sell, since out-of-state doctors are barred from treating patients remotely in most states, and Medicare doesn’t pay for telemedicine delivered to a patient’s home.

“Right now, Medicare pays more when care is provided in a high-cost environment like a hospital,” Dorsey says. “We should stop subsidizing high-cost centers of care, and start subsidizing care in low-cost, convenient, patient-centered locations.”

So Dorsey has been hacking away at those barriers, data bit by data bit.

First he showed that patients with Parkinson’s disease could get quality specialist care care via teleconference at a nursing home, as we reported back in 2011. The project was cheap, using a $25 webcam and $150 videoconferencing software. The patients said the care was better than the non-specialist care they’d been getting from office visits.

Next, Dorsey tried video house calls. The results of that experiment appear this week in JAMA Neurology. Read the rest of the article here.

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