Background: Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder and presents with a heterogeneous group of symptoms. Managing these symptoms requires coordinated care from a neurology specialist and a primary care provider. Access to neurology care is limited for those patients with Parkinson's disease who reside in rural areas given financial and mobility constraints along with the rarity of specialty providers. Methods: To close this gap, we developed and implemented a telehealth-based Project ECHO® (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) program, “Parkinson ECHO,” to provide education and support for rural clinicians and allied health members. The sessions focused on a topic within Parkinson's disease diagnosis or management followed by case discussions. We assessed the feasibility of this tele-mentoring educational offering, the favorability of this approach, and the effect it had on clinician confidence in diagnosing and treating Parkinson's disease using Likert-based surveys. Results: Thirty-three unique participants from 13 Oregon counties and one county in the state of Washington, of whom 70 % served rural and/or medically underserved communities, participated in Parkinson ECHO. There was a 52 % dropout rate based on survey response, though session attendance was higher. Participants were overall satisfied with the format and content of Parkinson ECHO. There were improvements in knowledge and confidence in diagnosing and treating Parkinson's disease which persisted 6 months following the conclusion of the program. Unexpectedly, two participants reported convening a multidisciplinary group to discuss improvements to PD care. Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic was an unexpected obstacle, but the teleconference nature permitted us to complete the program to positive effect. We found Parkinson ECHO did significantly increase participant confidence levels in diagnosing and managing Parkinson's disease.
- Medically underserved
- Primary care
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience