29th Mar 2019

Telemedicine is Changing...Are You Ready?

Telemedicine is Changing...Are You Ready?

The telemedicine industry is at a tipping point. Growing far beyond just interactions between physicians and patients to a new frontier in the delivery of healthcare. It’s becoming a new category entirely. Some leaders in this space, such as Banner Health who has been a technology trendsetter, will soon replace the term telemedicine with virtual health. Traditional telemedicine implies video, but virtual health will encompass artificial intelligence, apps, chatbots and more technologies. All of this is extended the relevance of telemedicine by addressing the goal of improving population health, enhancing patient experiences, reducing costs and increasing provider satisfaction.  There are several was telemedicine is conducted today. Let’s take a look at them.

Direct to Consumer

Direct-to-consumer encompasses many of the products and services that have dominated telemedicine to date. Most health technology occurred in this area and where most of the market share exists today. Many companies, such as Cerner and Teladoc, have built some dynamic solutions into their technology platforms, yet struggle to turn their technology into profits. Consumers have been slow to adopt this model. However, studies are showing that telemedicine is attracting a new set of customers who may not otherwise go to the doctor. A recent study shows that utilization and spending for acute respiratory illness based on commercial claims data from more than 300,000 patients in a two-year period shows the following:

  • Almost 12% of direct-to-consumer telehealth visits replaced visits to traditional providers, and 88% represented new utilization.
  • Direct-to-consumer telehealth may increase access by making care more convenient for certain demographics, but it may also increase utilization and healthcare spending
  • Without telemedicine service, 27.9% of parents would have visited an emergency room; a projected savings to the Florida healthcare system of approximately $113.9 million based on comparative data from the Florida ER Utilization Report.
  • Another 36.6% of parents would have gone to an urgent care facility.
  • Only 6% of the parents stated they would have done nothing if the telemedicine service was not available.

Most telemedicine solutions started with video. Researchers state that it’s not just about the video, but improving the workflow. That’s where the future in this space is going….workflow improvement.

Self-Service

The next generation of telehealth products is beginning to emerge in the self-service space that incorporates artificial intelligence. These applications guide patients through a series of questions and collect data, sometimes through a bot, and interpreted those responses. When a patient is able to connect with a provider, much of the paperwork is complete. This makes the clinical interaction more efficient and focused. Since these are emerging solutions, it’s essential to explore the features in depth. It’s a combination of computer and person interactions. It’s a hybrid model where a computer will spit out a diagnosis, the patient will open up a drawer and medication will be available. Of course, this will be for common issues, such as colds and flu, but can save much time and create future efficiencies.

Provider Collaboration

Provider collaboration is another area of growth in telemedicine. This is beneficial as it will enhance communication between nursing staff and physicians, as well as physician consultation with specialists. Providers use this method to obtain expertise they don’t have. Oncology and behavioral health consultations are already using this method. It’s inexpensive, easy, and HIPAA-compliant. It operates in the cloud, enabling users to use their own devices, such as phones, laptops, and tablets to interact. Medical collaboration encompasses more than video; it also includes texting, phone calls, and email. Many companies are operating in this space today.

Spaces

The fourth bucket in the telemedicine paradigm is the most interesting of all. It involves a shift in thinking with the idea that future patients can be treated through telemedicine at home, in the hospital, in nursing homes, in physician's offices and other places. Space would be designed and configured to include placement of secure cabling, and any necessary equipment such as high-resolution video cameras, speakers and monitors—similar to the way a video conferencing room is setup today. The future is about building spaces with the idea that people may need to provide care to a patient in this space, rather than having them travel when care is needed. Equipping nursing homes and hospital rooms this way would enable a variety of practitioners to provide bedside care more conveniently—for the patient and the provider. Patients wouldn't need to be transported, and providers could see more patients without disruption. In addition, the primary care provider, family, and friends located elsewhere could link into the video consultations, enhancing communication between all parties involved in the patient's care. Similarly, building this technology into physicians' offices will also become the norm. 

Are you working on your Telemedicine solution and need some help? We'd love to chat more.  Give us a call or email us and we'll help you find the right solution.

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