Doctors vs. patients? It seems like a contradiction, but in far too many cases, that is exactly the scenario described. Doctors, more specifically, neurologists because we are talking here about Parkinson’s disease, assert their authority and years of medical school over the patient. Now before I offend the entire medical community and receive a backlash of nasty emails, allow me to explain that in some instances, we are grateful for the years of training and experience that our medical practitioners put into their practices and appreciate their expertise. However, a standard protocol is evolving and proving most successful in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease – the multi-disciplinary approach. It is being implemented all throughout the PD community. This protocol is based in part to an outcome based study of medical care originally initiated by the Multiple Sclerosis Society and adopted for Parkinson’s disease by then the National Parkinson Foundation; now known as the Parkinson Foundation.
The Parkinson Disease Outcomes Project is a long term study following thousands of patients around the world in a post-treatment survey and physical performance testing clinical setting that produces reports for progression, quality of life and efficient treatment. There is also input from care providers. It is the largest data source and is used to determine best practices for PD patients.
How do doctors/patients fit in?
Traditionally, the doctor was the proverbial sun and the patients revolved around the physical. In the multi-disciplinary approach, the patient was the sun and the medical providers revolved around the patient. An example: when the patient makes an appointment for medical services, the entire medical staff knows and has access to evaluate him or her for not just a neurological exam but for say, speech therapy, physical and occupational therapy, psychiatric or swallow evaluation. These services come to the patient in a collaborative way. It’s innovative and cutting edge but many centers of excellence for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease are beginning to change protocol.
Why don’t all PD programs follow?
There are many reasons that this innovative approach to PD treatment does not follow this protocol. Some are geographic while others are more labor intensive or the financial cost is a burden. The facts remain that when you put the PD patient at the center of care, quality outcomes improve! As the outcomes study continues to grow and produce results, I believe more positive changes in care will occur.
For more information on the Parkinson’s Disease Outcomes Project, go to: http://www.parkinson.org/research/Parkinsons-Outcomes-Project