Interactive video conferencing: A means of providing interim care to parkinson's disease patients



Inequity in health care delivery is attributable to a variety of factors including geographic isolation. Patients living far from major urban centers have limited access to medical specialists. In the instace of Parkinson's disease (PD), optimal assessment and care may depend upon availability of specialty health care providers. In order to broaden health care access, interactive video conference (IVC) units are being developed for medical use. IVC allows a patient at a distant site to be “seen and heard” by a hospitalbased physician; simultaneously, the patient can “see and hear” the doctor. To establish the validity of this technology in the evaluation of PD, nine patients were independently examined and scored (UPDRS) by two movement disorder specialists. One examination was performed in-person by the usual physician. The other examination was performed on the same day via IVC over a distance of 350 miles by an examiner previously unfamiliar with the patients. Individual patient scores did not differ based on examiner (Spearman Rho Correlation Coefficients: UPDRS total scores r = 0.933, p < 0.0002; Hoehn and Yahr Scale r = 0.883, p < 0.001). A standardized exit interview was conducted to assess patients' perceptions of this application of video technology. Responses were favorable and virtually all patients viewed this as a means of accessing better health care. We conclude that valid motor assessments of PD patients can be made via IVC.