22 Jun Telehealth’s Potential: Improved Access to Care, Patient Outcomes
Post written by Kay Eron
Whether it’s the rapid development and deployment of clinical and consumer health solutions, the rising adoption of mobile technologies in clinical settings or the wearable device revolution underway, they all point to one common theme; telehealth is key to improving our current healthcare system. This will help us realize improvements in access to care, patient outcomes and affordable care.
For payers, reimbursement expenses are costly. Primarily due to the growing demand for services, prescription drugs, government regulations, medical malpractice liability and cost shifts due to under-funded public programs. For providers, the current healthcare landscape delivers little insight into patient behaviors and activity, making it difficult to analyze what’s contributing to or causing particular health conditions.
When it comes to patients, the hassle of scheduling, lengthy wait times and the high cost of care pushes healthcare education and preventative medicine out of reach for most. When you consider the extra hoops that the under-served and rural populations have to jump through, healthcare is often viewed as a last resort.
By leveraging innovative technology, we can transition from our current reactionary healthcare system to a more patient-engaged preventive model, delivering connected solutions to drive healthy living, prevention and chronic disease management. As the Internet-of-Things (IoT) continues to transform the impossible into the possible, wearable devices, mobile health solutions and health IT will help us realize a more accessible, cost-effective and efficient model of care, delivery ground-breaking discoveries through advanced data gathering and analytics.
Telehealth’s Reach in Connected Healthcare Market Growing
Telehealth covers all segments in the connected healthcare market, with remote patient monitoring, telemedicine and mobile health solutions (including wearables) being the top three at this time. With this comes tremendous opportunity in a wide range of settings, including home, post-acute care and inpatient treatment.
With specialized telehealth services taking off, barriers to reimbursement breaking down and advancements in technology, its likely telehealth will continue to experience steady clinical and consumer adoption. According to Start Up Health Insights, telehealth funding in 2013 reached $124 million, nearly quadrupling in 2014 to $456 million.
Right now we’re at a stage where continued research, collaboration and proof-of-concepts (PoCs) are key to driving widespread adoption of teleheath solutions at the clinical level, and those efforts are paying off. Physician interest in video telemedicine is improving, and Care Innovations is currently working with providers to create and evaluate new models of care using remote care management technology and patient behavior to deliver improvements in health outcomes.
Benefits for Payers, Providers and Patients
Telehealth data provides healthcare professionals with an opportunity to listen, analyze and act – in a move towards preventive healthcare. Sensor, image file and mHealth application data, among others, will be integrated and analyzed, delivering actionable insights that can help drive new processes and change.
Organizations that offer virtual video consults are popping up, providing consultation and education to patients. The results of these models, which increases patient engagement, leads to more proactive patients, reduced ER visits, and an increase in patient-centric care management plans. Some organizations have implemented phone and video call centers with computer-based back ends, automating the building of patient records, history and diagnostic information.
By collecting and analyzing a patient’s data, risk assessment technology can be used to identify patients who are at the highest risk for hospital admissions. Providers can then engage these patients, delivering the right mix of wearable RPM devices, managing the delivery, activation and analysis of data through their entire continuum of care.
Cloud-based big data analytics engines, constantly running sensor data, can help determine a patient’s health risk status. A disease model then compares the sensor data with a patient’s medical history and health benchmarks, looking for differentiators contrary to population norms and patient-specific trends. When a discovery is made, care managers and clinicians are notified when a patient’s risk status has changed and requires attention. These notifications are designed to provide care managers and clinicians with enough time to intervene with safer, lower cost, treatment options that keep patients healthy and happy at home.
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