It’s no secret that the healthcare space is broken. A 2013 study conducted by the Journal of Patient Safety estimates that between 210,000 and 440,000 patients die in the US each year from accidental practice. To put this into perspective, an estimated 600,000 Americans die from heart disease each year and another 565,000 from cancer (source: www.cdc.gov), which puts healthcare incompetence as the third leading cause of death in the United States.
The pool of entrepreneurs in the race to offer mobile health consulting is growing larger by the day. With telemedicine, users have the power of accessibility in their hands with apps such as TouchCare and iBluebutton (see below). While the concept of telemedicine isn’t anything new, having the accessibility to one’s doctor is. Here are seven ways telemedicine changes the healthcare landscape—for the better:
1. Stronger relationships. Relationships are everything. If there was ever a person not to make angry, it’s your doctor. More important, your relationship with your doctor is everything, which is why mobile healthcare is so ideal. It offers the luxuries of personalization and convenience without exposing yourself or your child to the 15 other sickly patients normally waiting in your doctor’s office.
2. Convenience. TouchCare takes mobile healthcare to the next level as it creates an entirely new user experience for the customer. Rather than having to trek into the doctor’s office for a consult, you can now do so from the comfort of your own smartphone for follow up visits, after hours calls, or while traveling. Additionally, parents gain a stronger piece of mind because they can immediately reach their doctor for relatively benign symptoms such as a cough or runny nose.
3. Reduced complexity. Complexity is defined by the speed at which industries change and the interdependence of relationships therein. Telemedicine reduces both.
A medical record folder being pulled from the records (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
4. Greater awareness. iBlueButton is perhaps the most comprehensive app for telemedicine as it allows users (currently only for active duty military and veterans) to carry their own medical records with them in their smartphone. For physicians, pop-up windows alert the provider of possible medication side effects for greater drug reconciliation.
5. Shared purpose. The focus of healthcare today appears to be more towards earning a profit rather than serving its purpose of patient care. The purpose of an organization is (ideally) to serve as a value differentiator to its customers because of what they (the company) stand for. Whatever a company’s flavor, its purpose is defined by a certifiable element that distinguishes it from all else, and that element is what attains and retains customers and fulfills a societal need. Bettina Experton, MD, MPH, and President & CEO of Humetrix, which is the company behind iBluebutton, believes that “collaborating for a higher purpose is a key corporate value… We work to empower patients and make them more informed healthcare consumers, and we think about ways to make life easier for parents, caregivers and families in an increasingly complex healthcare environment.” (source: http://www.ibluebutton.com/post-be-16/).
6. Improved efficiency. Smaller practices get bought out by larger organizations, which means new regulations and more bureaucracy are added into their daily routine. Nancy Zimmerman, head of Marketing for TouchCare, cited one practice in North Carolina who was recently bought out by a larger company who needed to scale back from seeing their normal 60 patients per day to 20 due to the added bureaucracy. Telemedicine eliminates phone consults and the addiction to answering emails.
7. Enhanced flexibility for physician. The immediacy of telemedicine provides direct access to the customer. iBlueButton users can directly share critical parts of their medical record with their doctor via secure messaging.
The changing landscape of healthcare offered through smartphone apps allows doctors to build stronger relationships with their patients rather than be just another MD—critical to the “patient” component of “patient care.”
Story and images by Stephanie Baum / MedCity News As telemedicine continues to gain acceptance in what continues to be a relatively small corner of the healthcare market, telemedicine (Avizia, telemedicine technology business founded by former Cisco...
Telemedical treatment has been a tantalizing possibility for many years, for reasons including a failure of health plans to pay for it and too little bandwidth to support it, but those reasons are quickly being trumped by the need for quick, cheap, convenient care.
In fact, according to research by Deloitte, 75 million of 600 million appointments with general practitioners will be via telemedicine channels this year alone.
While one might assume that this influx is coming from traditional primary care practices which are finding their way online, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Instead,a growing number of entrepreneurial startups are delivering primary care via smart phone and tablet, including Doctor on Demand and HealthTap, which offers videoconferences with PCPs, and options like Healthcare Magic and JustAnswer, which offer consumers the opportunity to get written responses to their healthcare queries from doctors.
Primary care doctors going into direct primary care are also joining the primary care telemedicine revolution; a key part of their business is based on making themselves available for consultation through all channels, including Skype/Facetime/Google Hangout meetings.
To date, most of the thinking about telemedicine have been that it’s an add-on service which is far to one side of the standard provision of primary care. However,with so many consumers paying out of pocket for primary care — and virtual visits typically priced far more cheaply than on-site visits — we may see a new paradigm emerge in which victims of high-deductible plans and the uninsured rely completely on telemedical PCPs.
Rather than being merely a new technical development, I believe that the delivery of primary care via telemedical channels is a new form of ongoing primary care delivery.
It will take some work on the part of the telemedicine companies to sustain long-term relationships with patients, notably the use of an EMR to track ongoing care. And telemedicine PCPs will need to develop new approaches to working with other providers smoothly, as coordination of care will remain important. Health IT companies would be wise to consider robust, unified platforms that allow all of this to happen smoothly.
Regardless, the bottom line is that primary care telemedicine isn’t an intriguing sideline, it’s the birth of a new way to think about financing and delivery of care. Let’s see if traditional providers jump in, or if they let the agile new virtual PCP companies take over.
Retail Clinics Make Being Sick a Little Easier Cape May County Herald (press release) In your travels recently, you may have noticed that retail health clinics are popping up to meet the need for walk-in healthcare in growing communities, like Cape...
The 2014 U.S. Telemedicine Study, the first of HIMSS Analytics' new Essentials Briefs series, tracks a technology strategy that's increasingly finding favor among healthcare providers who are seeking ways to deliver better care to a larger patient populations at lower costs.
"Organizations continue to strive toward a value-based rather than volume-based care model, and many telemedicine technologies can aid in that transition," said HIMSS Analytics Research Director Brendan FitzGerald in a press statement.
Some 46 percent of respondents deploy up to four telemedicine technologies within their organization.
Two-way video/webcam is the most widely used (57.8 percent) and most widely considered (67.1 percent) for those making a telemedicine investment.
This report, which polled both hospitals and physician practices, shows that "organizational needs will vary based upon provider type," FitzGerald said -- pointing out that "the numerous technologies under the telemedicine umbrella will add to the complexity of the market."
This news brief seeks to offer insights into how and why providers are adopting telemedicine tools, exploring topics such as integration with electronic health records, their product wants and needs and their timeline and investment strategies for the next 12 to 24 months.
"As healthcare organizations continue down the path of meeting meaningful use criteria, collaboration and coordination of care is a subject that remains a top concern," according to HIMSS Analytics. "One of the ways healthcare providers, whether large hospitals, rural healthcare settings or physician practices, have been able to increase their care coverage and extend the continuity of care within the market, is to rely on telemedicine technologies."
Telemedicine Market - Global Industry Analysis and Forecast to 2020.E-health is a process of delivering healthcare and health resources by electronic means. It helps healthcare providers and patients to interact with each other with the help of electronic media.
Former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as new Veterans Affairs secretary secretary on Tuesday, just as a new VA overhaul bill gives a substantial push for new health IT initiatives at the troubled agency.
A new partnership between a small Utah health plan and a telemedicine provider may signal the growing acceptance of telemedicine in the payer community.
Arches Health has forged a deal with TruClinic, also based in Salt Lake City, that makes TruClinic's web-based platform available to some 1,000 Utah providers and health plan members inside the Arches Preferred Care Clinics program. More significantly, the independent payer has created 30 CPT codes "specifically for reimbursement of patient-centric care solutions that streamline the channels of care for both the patients and the providers."
Essentially, Arches is creating a payment formula that targets telemedicine, and it's including benefits that many other payers don't cover, like telephone and online consultations, group visits and a wider range of preventive services.
"Arches Health Plan has activated over 30 CPT codes to pay providers to be more proactive and practical in how they treat patients," Arches co-founder Josh Nelson told mHealth News. "Examples include payment for telephone visits, online consultations and group visits, as well as analysis of patient data to proactively identify those needing to be seen, and even to hold care coordination team conferences with family members and other specialists."
"Providers like being paid for activities they know are best for patients, but which are not paid by traditional insurance plans," Nelson added. "Patients like having easier access to their providers, test results, and follow-up questions."
Company officials said they've modeled the two-year-old consumer-oriented and operated health plan with an eye toward payment reform. Telemedicine, in fact, was built into the payer's original business plan, according to Glen Herzberg, a marketing research analyst for the health plan.
"Really, it's just allowing people to access their doctors," he told mHealth News. "From the beginning, we've been dedicated to changing the atmosphere of payment and treatment."
Arches executives have big plans for their new partnership. They're allowing providers to make the service available to non-Arches members until September, and expect to have more than 4,500 providers in their network on the TruClinic platform in time.
TruClinic was launched roughly four years ago by Justin Kahn, and gained a foothold in 2012 in providing a telehealth platform to several Native American tribes in and around Utah. The company also has partnerships with the University of Utah Health Care and Utah Valley University, and more recently joined forces with the Zahra Charity to bring telehealth services to Morocco.
In a 2013 interview with mHealth News, Kahn said his goal was to "provide a service that eliminates as many barriers of entry as possible into telehealth."
For providers, one of the chief barriers is reimbursement. Indeed, Kahn said in a prepared statement that TruClinic is hoping that what Arches accomplishes "will resound across the country," as the plan establishes a spectrum of telemedicine services and best practices