Chicago-based Rush University Medical Center has launched a new telemedicine program for movement disorders patients.
Implemented in May after a period of quality testing, the telemedicine option is especially well-suited for movement disorders patients, such as those with Parkinson’s disease who are disabled and may have difficulty driving to doctors’ appointments, according to Rush officials. For these types of patients, diagnosis and treatment decisions are based largely on visual assessments that now can be captured when a physician sees the patient on a computer screen via the new telemedicine service.
According to a press release from the medical center, “It’s a logical next step for Rush, where movement disorders experts helped establish and test the visual criteria used to diagnose Parkinson’s disease and similar movement disorders decades ago and pioneered the use of video technology in this process.”
Patients come from all over the Chicago area and beyond to be treated at the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center at Rush. But now, they won’t necessarily need to travel to receive their care from Rush. “We care for vulnerable patients who are often compromised by gait difficulty, slowness and balance difficulties. Further, we serve a large geographical area, and many of our patients spend several hours traveling to and from Rush for their care,” Christopher Goetz, M.D., director of the center, who helped to spearhead the telemedicine pilot project, said in a statement. “Telemedicine offers them an at-home visit, where they have direct contact with their neurologist and yet do not have to endure the challenges of travel.”
To qualify for a telemedicine visit, patients must confirm they have high-speed internet, a webcam, and appropriate software. They need to have a blood pressure cuff at home so that they can take their blood pressure during the visit and report the findings to their physician.
As a healthcare organization, Rush is no stranger to telemedicine; it also uses remote technology to enhance care for stroke patients throughout the greater Chicago area. The Rush Telestroke Network provides 12 community hospitals in the Chicago region with access to consultations with stroke care experts, at any time of any day, for ischemic stroke patients that present in their emergency rooms. Since March 2011, Rush physicians have performed more than 3,300 telemedicine consultations, and the network projects to exceed 4,000 consultations by the end of 2017, its officials say.
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