CHICAGO – Telemedicine is taking it to the next level as new technology allows doctors to see patients from a distance and treat them as well.
It’s called Neurosphere Virtual Clinic, developed by Abbott Labs and used at Rush University Medical Center.
With an iPad at Rush, a neurologist can fit the implant in his patient’s brain, even if she is miles away in the suburbs.
Leonard Verhagen, MD, PhD, director of the Movement Disorders Intervention Program and Professor of Neuroscience at Rush University Medical Center, said, “I think this is a game-changer.
Think of the Neurosphere Virtual Clinic as a truly advanced app where doctors and patients connect remotely to manage movement disorders or chronic pain, which are treated with an implant in the brain or spinal cord.
We saw how Parkinson’s patient Tricia O’neill had an arm tremor at her home in Hinsdale.
Back in Rush, Dr Verhagen fitted an implant in O’Neill’s brain, called deep brain stimulation, and the tremor subsided.
Prior to this breakthrough, O’Neill would have had to travel to Rush every few months for these adjustments, taking a half-day off.
“Now if I need an adjustment to my adjustments I just dial in, it’s like telehealth and just 15 minutes away I can even do it from my desk,” O’Neill said.
According to Dr. Binneth Cheeran, director of medical affairs at Abbott, “It’s a telehealth solution, but it goes beyond telehealth.”
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Dr Cheeran says this technology developed at Abbott Labs is the next step because it allows doctors to talk to their patients remotely and treat them as well. Cheeran adds: “This is truly a unique technology that has a huge impact on people with Parkinson’s disease, essential tremors and chronic pain, and tens of millions of Americans suffer today. of these conditions “.
Dr Verhagen has used deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson’s disease for years, with patients braving Chicago’s infamous trafficking as they travel hundreds of miles for specialist care. Verhagen says: “They don’t mind if they have to come maybe once or twice and maybe have the surgery here, but then if they know it can happen and be remotely scheduled at home, it’s a really big step forward, I think. “
This is probably the first step in many advancements in healthcare technology. According to Dr Cheeran, “Healthcare is still a bit analog and we need to make it a bit more digital to better fit our modern lives.”
But the future is uncertain. Telehealth, including this technology, is currently covered by insurance in Illinois, due to an emergency pandemic order. It will soon expire, and Springfield lawmakers continue to debate to make telehealth coverage permanent when the state reopens.