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Parkinson’s Patients Receive Medical Care via Webcam or Smartphone

Update Date: May 13, 2014 09:33 AM EDT
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"Why can't we provide care to people wherever they are?" asked Dr. Ray Dorsey, a neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center. (Photo : Wiki Commons)

For some patients, finding a way to get to the doctor's office can be time-consuming, difficult, expensive and stressful. In order to address these issues, doctors have started using a different method to deliver medical care. This method only requires the patient to sit in front of a webcam or a smartphone and listen to the doctor's instructions. Doctors hope that by offering virtual house calls, patients will be less likely to skip a trip to the doctor's office due to other factors.

"Why can't we provide care to people wherever they are?" asked Dr. Ray Dorsey, a neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center reported by Fox News. "Think of taking your mom with Alzheimer's to a big urban medical center. Just getting through the parking lot they're disoriented. That's the standard of care but is it what we should be doing?"

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Dr. Dorsey is leading a new national study that is currently examining the effects of offering virtual house calls for patients dealing with Parkinson's disease. Roughly 40 percent of Parkinson's patients do not see a specialist because of distance. Several studies have found that people who see a specialist have a higher quality of life. In order to offer that kind of care, Dr. Dorsey hopes that the study's findings will encourage more insurance companies to cover this new type of telemedicine. He also hopes that states that restrict doctors from seeing and prescribing patients through telemedicine revise their laws.

"It's just the same as if you've ever done Facetime on an iPhone," commented patient, Mark Matulaitis, 59, who has virtual checkups with Dr. Dorsey a few times a year. "It allows the doctor to see the patient at a point where they are at their best."

Parkinson's is a neurodegenerative brain disease that affects the motor skills. The four main symptoms, according top the National Parkinson Foundation, are shaking or tremor while resting, slowness of movement, stiffness of the limbs and trouble with balance that could lead to many potentially fatal falls.

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