06 Mar Accessing Health Care Without Leaving the Comfort of Your Home
Guest Post by University of Minnesota, Rochester senior student Kate Scheffler
Imagine being able to access your health care without leaving the comfort of your home. Through the use of Telehealth, this vision is quickly becoming a reality. By using Interactive TV in the communication process between the patient and physician, Telehealth is improving the delivery of care. Although unconventional, Telehealth reduces bed days of care by 53% and is extremely cost effective, costing about 35 dollars per consultation. Telehealth also improves the quality of care of patients in rural areas by moving care into the home in local communities.
As a neurosurgeon, Adam Darkins was unimpressed with the lack of communication throughout the system. After working a couple of years as a neurosurgeon, Darkins recognized many flaws in the system and became determined to improve it. Switching his focus, he acquired a Masters in Public Health and worked in a research and policy institute called the Kings Fund in London. His work focused on shared decision making and moving services out of hospitals and into other settings. This is where he became exposed to Telehealth. Telehealth encompasses the idea of changing the location of healthcare decision making through the use of technology. With the goal of taking innovation from a pilot to scale by creating the systems to support it, Darkins and his team began implementing Telehealth practices at the Veterans Health Administration (VA). Currently, the VA is recognized as a national leader in Telehealth. Although an ongoing process, Telehealth has improved the quality of care for patients everywhere, especially in rural areas.