Travel distance, growing disability, and uneven distribution of doctors limit access to care for most Parkinson's disease (PD) patients worldwide. Telemedicine, the use of telecommunications technology to deliver care at a distance, can help overcome these barriers. In this report, we describe the past, present, and likely future applications of telemedicine to PD. Historically, telemedicine has relied on expensive equipment to connect single patients to a specialist in pilot programs in wealthy nations. As the cost of video conferencing has plummeted, these efforts have expanded in scale and scope, now reaching larger parts of the world and extending the focus from care to training of remote providers. Policy, especially limited reimbursement, currently hinders the growth and adoption of these new care models. As these policies change and technology advances and spreads, the following will likely develop: integrated care networks that connect patients to a wide range of providers; education programs that support patients and health care providers; and new research applications that include remote monitoring and remote visits. Together, these developments will enable more individuals with PD to connect to care, increase access to expertise for patients and providers, and allow more-extensive, less-expensive participation in research.
Keywords: Parkinson's disease; telemedicine.
© 2014 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.