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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Jun 25 2012   9:02PM GMT

8 significant aspects of telemedicine

Posted by: RedaChouffani
CMS, healthcare IT trends, telehealth, telemedicine

For sometime many have predicted that telehealth will have a significant importance to healthcare.  This hard trend holds true, and is proven to bring value through its ability for: remote visits with patients, immediate access to healthcare professionals, real-time access to heath data and health monitoring capabilities.

We can review the following 10 items that make a strong case for telemedicine being a significant trend for healthcare:

Consumer Access: As the number of patients being exposed to video conferencing continues to grow, and all the conveniences it provides them with, many are continue to wonder when more physicians will be able to perform follow up visits over the internet. In some cases parents are looking for the convenience of their children seeing they primary care or FNP from the comfort of their home or even the nurses office at school. There have been many successful implementations of this use case that continues to make a strong case for the value of telemedicine.

Improved Outcomes: Telemedicine includes services such as remote health monitoring. In this model patients use devices such as smart phones or medical devices to transmit health data to health organizations that monitor. There have been several studies showing the value of remote monitoring.  It has been shown to improve the patient’s health and reduce emergency room readmissions. As these outcomes continue to be measures, telemedicine has the opportunity to provide significant impacts on quality and patient outcomes.

Telehealth will increase efficiency: With the right technology, health organizations can significantly have a reduction in operational costs by using these services.  By performing follow up visits remotely, medical practices can take better control of their schedules, waiting room and visits.

Governmental support and funding: CMS and many states have made significant efforts to support telemedicine. Last year CMS released ruling that simplified the credentialing for provides who treat patients remotely.  And in last May telemedicine initiative was a significant feature in the first round of projects from CMMI (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation).  There have also been significant changes have been around reimbursement from both public and private payers.

Technology is available to support stronger adoption: Whether you are a use of WebEx services, Microsoft Lync, Skype, Facetime, or simply Google Video Chat video conferencing is more popular and accessible than ever. And within healthcare some of those platforms are being used but with a little more focus on security. Several of the vendors above offer advanced functionality that is relevant in the healthcare arena such as archiving, document sharing and multi use conferencing.

Electronic Medical Records: EHR vendors are providing support for capturing and supporting new types and formats of data sets. While telemedicine provides several types of data (vitals, data from medical devices, videos and audios), today’s EHR packages are becoming more aware of the importance of support data variety.

Patient satisfaction: Patients are looking for convenience. And for many, the least they have to drive to a medical practice, find a baby sitter, and wait in the waiting room the happier they will are. In some cases patients are looking to get immediate access to a specialist, this can be made possible through telehealth services as well.

Care delivery change and the need to continuity of care: ACOs and the push for collaborative care and care continuity model play a strong role in supporting telemedicine.  With the ability to maintain contact with patients as well as monitor their health remotely, patients and the care team will benefit from the telemedicine significantly.

There is still a significant investment that has to be made by CMS and Hospitals to ensure the continuity of support and increase in adoption of telehealth. Many large hospital systems are actively engaging successfully their patients in their care through telemedicine services, but more needs to be done in order to make a bigger impact on outcome.  There are many benefits to be gained from this technology despite some workflow changes.

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