HealthDay News — Virtual house calls by neurologists may be of great interest to and provide substantial convenience for patients with Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published in Neurology.

The research included 195 patients who received either care from their usual doctor or their usual care plus up to 4 video (virtual) visits with a neurologist they had not seen before.

The virtual visits were as effective as in-person visits. In both groups, quality of life, quality of care, and burden on caregivers was the same, the researchers found. Each virtual visit saved patients an average of 169 minutes and nearly 100 miles of driving, according to a journal news release accompanying the study. 

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Ninety-seven percent of patients and 86% of neurologists said they were satisfied with the virtual visits, and 55% of patients said they preferred virtual visits over in-person visits.

“Virtual house calls have the potential to dramatically increase access to care for people with such a debilitating disease,” wrote the authors of an accompanying editorial. “The 21st Century Cures Act mandated a report on which chronic conditions could be improved most by the expansion of telemedicine. Parkinson’s disease should be considered for this report, and it should expand the definition of telemedicine to include the virtual house call.”

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Beck CA, Beran DB, Biglan KM, et al. National randomized controlled trial of virtual house calls for Parkinson disease [published online August 16, 2017]. Neurology. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000004357