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Digit Health. 2015 Jun 29;1:2055207615592998. doi: 10.1177/2055207615592998. eCollection 2015 Jan-Dec.

Virtual research visits and direct-to-consumer genetic testing in Parkinson's disease.

Author information

Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics, University of Rochester, USA.
Department of Neurology, University of Rochester Medical Center, USA.
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, USA.
Coursera, Mountain View CA, USA.
Johns Hopkins University, USA.
Voyager Therapeutics, 75 Sidney Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.



The purpose of this study was to conduct a proof-of-concept study to evaluate remote recruitment and assessment of individuals ("virtual research visits") with Parkinson's disease who have pursued direct-to-consumer genetic testing.


Participants in 23andMe's "Parkinson's Research Community" were contacted by 23andMe. Fifty willing participants living in 23 states underwent a remote, standardized assessment including cognitive and motor tests by a neurologist via video conferencing and then completed a survey. Primary outcomes assessed were (a) proportion of participants who completed the remote assessments; (b) level of agreement (using Cohen's kappa coefficient) of patient-reported data with that of a neurologist; and (c) interest in future virtual research visits.


The self-reported diagnosis of Parkinson's disease was confirmed in all cases (k = 1.00). The level of agreement for age of symptom onset (k = 0.97) and family history (k = 0.85) was very good but worse for falling (k = 0.59), tremor (k = 0.56), light-headedness (k = 0.31), and urine control (k = 0.15). Thirty-eight (76%) of the 50 participants completed a post-assessment survey, and 87% of respondents said they would be more or much more willing to participate in future clinical trials if they could do research visits remotely.


Remote clinical assessments of individuals with known genotypes were conducted nationally and rapidly from a single site, confirmed self-reported diagnosis, and were received favorably. Direct-to-consumer genetic testing and virtual research visits together may enable characterization of genotype and phenotype for geographically diverse populations.


Direct-to-consumer genetic testing; Parkinson's disease; genetics; technology; telemedicine

Conflict of interest statement

ERD is an advisor to, and has stock options in, Grand Rounds; is a compensated consultant to Clintrex, mc10, Shire, and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; is an unpaid advisor to SBR Health and Vidyo; receives grant support from Auspex Pharmaceuticals, Prana Biotechnology, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Davis Phinney Foundation, Michael J. Fox Foundation, Huntington Study Group, and Great Lakes Neurotechnologies; and has filed a patent application related to neurology and telemedicine. KD, SD, AT and MA have no conflicting interests. EC is an employee of Biogen Idec. SM and EC are employees of 23andMe. NE was an employee of 23andMe. BR and SW were previously employees of Biogen Idec.

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