Telemedicine has exploded during the pandemic, but a new device is taking online office visits to a new level. Indiana University Health is one of a select number of health systems in the U.S. piloting NeuroSphere digital care.
The technology, which was developed by Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT), allows doctors to manage a device implanted in a patient’s brain while the patient remains at home.
“Deep Brain Stimulation surgery is a neurosurgical procedure. It’s used to treat a variety of brain disorders, most commonly essential tremor, and Parkinson’s disease,” explained Dr. Elizabeth Zauber, a neurologist at IU Health.
Patients who suffer from a variety of brain disorders often have a neurosurgical procedure to place a device deep inside the brain that delivers electric impulses to counter tremors or other involuntary movements.
“After the neurosurgeon places this device, there’s a process of tuning the electricity,” said Zauber in an interview with Business of Health Reporter Kylie Veleta. “And that typically requires a long time of patients coming into the office and having it adjusted until we get the settings optimized.”
Zauber says the system allows patients to receive specialized care without having to make as many trips to the doctor’s office.
“We draw patients from all four corners of the state. And many patients have to drive several hours to get here. And so being able to have some of their visits performed at home will be a big benefit for them,” said Zauber.
Zauber says patients who have already received deep brain stimulation surgery will not need a new implant. Rather, a software upgrade will allow healthcare staff to manage the existing implant remotely using the neurosphere technology.
She says the growth of telemedicine during the pandemic is opening doors for doctors and patients alike.
“Not only have physicians become more comfortable treating patients remotely but patients have gotten much more used to using telemedicine to access care,” said Zauber. “It’s definitely opened the door for this type of advance.”