Improving Care Access and Utilization for Parkinson Disease: James Beck, PhD


The senior vice president and chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation discussed a recently published Medicare claims analysis that highlighted significant issues with access to proper care for patients with Parkinson disease. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 4 minutes

"It’s these other clinicians, particularly neurologists, and provide them with the tools that they need as part of the process. [We need to] raise awareness about the [Parkinson’s] Foundation. We have a lot of tools that can answer basic questions that can reduce physician burden."

Inconsistent symptom presentation and disease progression, as well as lack of biomarker or objective clinical diagnostic test to diagnose disease, creates a challenge for diagnosing and treating Parkinson disease (PD), especially for physicians with less expertise in movement disorders. Recently published in Nature, a Medicare claims study by the Parkinson’s Foundation identified several gaps in care access and utilization for patients with PD in 2019, and emphasized the need for further research on population-specific barriers.1

Led by James Beck, PhD, the study evaluated healthcare patterns of 808,107 beneficiaries who had at least 1 claim with an ICD-10 diagnostic code of G20 indicating PD. Compared with the overall Medicare population, 56.3% of those included were male (vs 45.6%), 77.9% over age 70 (vs 57.1%), 14.7% people of color (vs 20.7%) and 16% were rural residents (vs 17.5%). Above all, the findings showed that 40% of PD beneficiaries did not see a neurologist at all during the calendar year and only 9.1% visited a movement disorder specialist.

In 2019, findings showed that 20.3% of the population of Medicare beneficiaries living with PD used physical therapy, 9.5% used occupational therapy, and 7.5% used speech-language therapy. Additionally, despite more than half (52.9%) of Medicare beneficiaries having a diagnosis of depression and/or anxiety, only 1.8% of these individuals had at least 1 clinical psychology visit and 3.9% had at least 1 psychiatry visit.

After the study was published, Beck, senior vice president and chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation, sat down to discuss the findings. He spoke on the main takeaways from the study, ways to bridge gaps in access to PD care, and overcoming challenges with the limited number of movement disorder specialists.

1. Pearson C, Hartzman A, Munevar D, et al. Care access and utilization among medicare beneficiaries living with Parkinson’s disease. npj Parkinson’s Disease. Published online July 10, 2023. doi:10.1038/s41531-023-00523
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