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Telehealth: Expanding Reach, Transforming Healthcare

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Emerging trends and innovations in technology are transforming healthcare, and medicine is now truly mobile. With secure and compliant platforms, doctors and patients are able to collaborate from anywhere, on any device. Based on current stats, 64% of Americans would be willing to have a video visit with a doctor (1).  Remote patients can be connected with healthcare professionals, regardless of location, making healthcare more accessible, efficient and affordable. Patients can contact their doctors through a video or voice call, without having to travel to an office.

On the flip side, doctors can consult with other medical specialists, worldwide, and provide necessary training in rural, remote areas. Medical training, administrative meetings and continuing education can easily and securely be conducted from anywhere in the world.

According to the California Telehealth Resource Center, telehealth increases access to healthcare, improves health outcomes, reduces healthcare costs, addresses provider shortages, supports clinical education, improves patient support, improves organizational productivity and benefits the environment.

HIPAA compliance is a critical element where telehealth and telemedicine are involved, and technology has adapted to embrace these compliance issues. The HIPAA guidelines on telemedicine are quite clear and specifically address measures needed to secure the integrity of ePHI.

 

Expanding Access to Care

Telemedicine and telehealth options are becoming more and more popular and mainstream, and are expanding reach and care abilities. The ability to virtually place a highly specialized physician in a remote corner of the world, with little or no access to high quality care, is quite simply groundbreaking.

When you aren’t able to bring the patient to the doctor, you can now bring the doctor to the patient. Telemedicine makes this possible. Virtual consults, messaging apps, and high definition video conferencing systems bring providers and patients together when they are not geographically near one another. This applies in both urban and rural areas.

Rural areas, where approximately 20% of the US population resides, may suffer from a serious lack of medical specialists and specialty services. Telemedicine offers access to these specialists that patients would not otherwise have access to through mobile consultations, remote monitoring and virtual-care clinics. Geographic location becomes irrelevant, and video conferencing or messaging brings the remote patient and doctor in close contact. You see cases like this throughout the county where organizations are using telemedicine to drastically improve patient outcomes, regardless of where they’re located.

In North Carolina, telehealth is helping seniors remain in their homes longer. Hospitalization rates decreased for patients enrolled in the FirstHealth Home Care Chronic Disease model. Patients who had diagnoses of heart failure, diabetes or COPD and had experienced frequent hospitalizations were monitored at home between skilled nursing visits. Response and intervention times improved substantially (2).

The University of Southern California Center for Body Computing is bringing treatment and management options to patients in remote areas through a virtual care clinic. This clinic aims to to provide education and consultations via mobile applications for those dealing with cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancers and diabetes (3).


Empowering Care Teams

Mobile applications allow clinicians to collect patient information and automatically upload it to a secure and compliant cloud storage system on a real-time basis. Solutions such as these reduce the time and cost of providing care and move the medical experience closer to the patient – most likely directly to their handheld device.

Telemedicine allows for a stronger, more robust network of healthcare practitioners, allowing doctors from anywhere in the world to exchange ideas, challenges, opinions and patient information in a real-time manner. This provides invaluable care capabilities for doctors and their patients.

Evolving telemedicine and telehealth capabilities offer sophisticated methods of conducting patient evaluations and remotely obtaining and sharing patient information. Embracing a telemedicine model proves cost effective, time-efficient and streamlined workflow for healthcare providers and their administrative office staff.

<Related: Read how one doctor from The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, delivers remote training for eye surgeons in Armenia.>


Revolutionizing Curbside Consults

A “curbside consult” refers to an information conversation a physician has with a colleague about a patient’s medical management. Consults of this nature can leave doctors open to liability, privacy and ethical issues.

Participating in this same type of consult, an open sharing of ideas, best practices and knowledge, can be conducted on a compliant messaging platform or via secure video conference and achieve the same result, with a significant reduction in risk. An “e-consult,” a provider-to-provider communication within a shared electronic health record (EHR) improves access to specialty expertise and provides the compliancy standards required by HIPAA.


What was once truly “curbside,” is now virtual.

With evolving solutions and innovations in technology, new capabilities are continuously made possible in the healthcare field. Mobile health, telecollaboration, telemedicine, and remote training and surgeries make quality healthcare affordable, accessible and efficient.


Interested in learning more on how technology is transforming healthcare? Join industry experts for a hosted executive summit. Event is hosted live and virtually.

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[1] Hyatt, Ali. “Top 10 Stats to Know About Telehealth” January  21, 2015. https://www.americanwell.com/top-10-stats-you-need-to-know-about-telehealth/

[2] https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/topics/telehealth

[3] Lewis, Nicole. “Telehealth Helps Close Health Care Disparity Gap in Rural Areas.” December 6, 2016. https://news.aamc.org/patient-care/article/telehealth-health-care-disparity-gap/

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