Telehealth: Technology meets Healthcare
What if you were in the middle of the Antarctic, working at a research station and suddenly fell down with chest pain, followed by vomiting? The only other person on the same continent is a fellow researcher, who, in a freak accident, suffered a major laceration and is bleeding out of the femoral artery?
You need help; you need to see a doctor or someone with medical knowledge, but you can’t do that, because there is no one like that at the research center and due to the weather, you can’t be evacuated for two months. If that sounds dramatic, that’s because it is the premise of an episode of House M.D., called “Frozen.”
In this episode of House M.D., House and his team did the only thing they could do to save their patient. They used telehealth as a means of giving care. With just a webcam, the patient was able to convey to House and his team what equipment she had access to; she conveyed her health history; she conveyed and showed what her symptoms were; she was able to run tests on herself, under the supervision of House and his team, and she was able to administer treatment to herself(with the help of her fellow researcher).
With nothing but a webcam, House and his team, who are in New Jersey, were able to provide care for a woman in the South Pole.
Now, you might be thinking that this is something that is too far fetched to ever happen. You would be wrong. This episode was inspired by the real-life story of Dr. FitzGerald((Hevesi, Dennis. “Jerri FitzGerald, 57, Dies; Treated Own Cancer at South Pole.” The New York Times. June 24, 2009.)).
Admittedly, the situation is extremely rare, which is why it was used for a television show. But there is something important to take away from it. Treatment doesn’t necessarily have to be face to face interactions.
In fact, in several instances, telehealth is a better and more economical way of providing care.
For instance, in the case of a patient who is bedridden. The cost and effort required to bring them to the care provider, or the cost and effort required to bring the care provider to the patient, is a lot. With telehealth, the doctor would be able to check up on the patient and if there is no cause for concern, continue forward with the course of treatment that was prescribed. Curavihealth, a subsidiary of UPMC, is doing just that. They are providing telehealth solutions to over a 100 skilled nursing facilities that has reduced readmission rates.
But telehealth isn’t just providing care through a webcam. It is much more. Modern diagnostic equipment that monitor patients are hooked to the EHR systems that track and convey health status to care providers are gaining prevalence. Another instance, the way that care can be provided for a diabetic patient(courtesy of the Mayo Clinic)((“Managing Your Health in the Age of Wi-Fi” Mayo Clinic. August 16, 2017.)):
- Use a mobile phone or other device to upload food logs, medications, dosing and blood sugar levels for review by a nurse who responds electronically.
- Watch a video on carbohydrate counting and download an app for it to your phone.
- Use an app to estimate, based on your diet and exercise level, how much insulin you need.
- Use an online patient portal to see your test results, schedule appointments, request prescription refills or email your doctor.
- Order testing supplies and medications online.
- Get a mobile retinal photo screening at your doctor’s office rather than scheduling an appointment with a specialist.
- Get email, text or phone reminders when you need a flu shot, foot exam or other preventive care.
Thanks to telehealth, diabetic patients can live their life without their illness putting a significant strain and burden on their life.
However telehealth platforms need to be specifically designed for care-giving. It has to abide by regulations. They need to be HIPAA compliant, encrypted and secure. Many devices have to be even approved by the FDA. Therefore consumer platforms like Facetime and Skype may not be ideal for telehealth unless they have been certified and compliant with rules and regulations.
This might start to sound like it’s too much work, but with the right investment, you can change your entire care
delivery process. ,when you invest in a system for your practice, there are 3 things that you need to look for:
- Does it enhance care delivery?
- Does it enhance cash flow and reduce inefficiencies?
- Is it able to integrate with and coordinate with other systems?
Does telehealth help in enhanced care? Yes, it does. As we see above, telehealth helps both patients and caregivers build a more meaningful relationship by letting them communicate and exchange information better.
Does it bring in more cash or reduce expenses? Yes, in multiple ways. For the patient, it save the cost of travel and wait time. More and more insurance companies are reimbursing providers for telehealth services. This enhances cash flow and saves time for the providers. For insurance companies, data shows that multiple millions of dollars are saved through telehealth by eliminated readmission rates and unnecessary hospitalisations.
Can telehealth integrate with and coordinate with other systems? Unlike standalone telehealth platforms, a telehealth solution well integrated with the EHR system reduces documentation time and enhances the insurance claim filing process. This is dependent on both the telehealth platform and the system it is attempting to integrate with. Most of the time, telehealth platforms are trying to integrate with EHR systems. But the extent of the integration is dependent on the malleability of the EHR.
Various platforms are available for telehealth. blueEHR is a good example of a telehealth platform that is well integrated with an EHR system . It helps patients; it helps caregivers; it helps to reduce expenses and maximize profits and it is going to become a widely used tool in the near future. For any practice or hospital that is trying to keep up with the times, telehealth is a smart investment.
- Mental Health: The Need For A Routine During COVID-19Apr 26 , 2021
- Mental Health Care In A PandemicApr 16 , 2021
- Part II: Is Telemedicine Here to Stay?Dec 18 , 2020
- Part I: Is Telemedicine Here to Stay?Nov 30 , 2020
- Covid-19: Ignorance is Not BlissJul 29 , 2020
- Covid-19: Why You Should Be Wearing a MaskJul 13 , 2020
- Part 2: Getting Care During a PandemicJun 15 , 2020
- Part 1: Getting Care During a PandemicJun 04 , 2020
- Data Aggregation and Its Importance: A WHOOP ExperienceMar 09 , 2020
- How WHOOP Could be a Trailblazer in Treating Population HealthFeb 13 , 2020
- How the Internet Changed HealthcareOct 18 , 2019
- Patient Histories: The Key to Quality CareOct 01 , 2019
- 3A’s (Aggregate, Analyze and Act) of Healthcare ITSep 19 , 2019
- Telemedicine – Benefits and ChallengesSep 04 , 2019
- Health Data Exchange StandardsJul 31 , 2019
- Telehealth: Technology meets HealthcareApr 11 , 2019
- Integrated Care: The Future of Behavioral HealthMar 29 , 2019
- Troubles with Getting Mental Health Help and InsuranceMar 15 , 2019
- 7 Things to do to Protect Against Ransomware AttacksAug 08 , 2018
- Oh EHR, how can we love thee?Apr 20 , 2018
- What’s in Store for Practice Fusion UsersJan 31 , 2018
- What is precision medicine? And how can EHR help?Jan 05 , 2018
- What’s the SOAPware alternative?Dec 15 , 2017
- Artificial Intelligence, EHRs and the future of health technologyNov 02 , 2017
- ACA Executive order’s impact on EMR and eHealth technologyOct 25 , 2017
- EHRs and Mental Health: What Needs to Change?Sep 29 , 2017
- American Medical Association (And Others) Unhappy With EHR ProvidersSep 22 , 2017
- A Celebration of Citizenship DaySep 18 , 2017
- Amazon’s Stealthy Foray Into the World of EHRAug 18 , 2017
- Google, the Gender Gap and Personal ResponsibilityAug 10 , 2017
- Neal Patterson and the Mission of Health ITJul 21 , 2017
- The Myth About Motivating People To PerformJul 14 , 2017
- Fragmented health data and personalized medicine: What to do?Jul 07 , 2017
- Apple’s Venture Into the World of EHR SoftwareJun 23 , 2017
- What does the U.K. health record hack mean for eHealth security?Jun 15 , 2017
- Why Doctors need an All-rounder Healthcare Solution?Mar 19 , 2016
- Are we ready for data-driven healthcare?Mar 12 , 2016
- Using Medicare And Private Sector Claims Data for Patient care QualityFeb 26 , 2016
- The Doctor must “Evolve” with the TechnologyFeb 26 , 2016
- The 2015 Practice Profitability IndexFeb 25 , 2016
- ‘Mind Your Risks’ – The NIH health campaignFeb 22 , 2016
- Middle East and Arab Health 2016Feb 03 , 2016
- Medical Billing in 2016Jan 08 , 2016
- CMS publishes 2014 National Health ExpendituresJan 02 , 2016
- Results from the Practice Profitability Index 2015Dec 16 , 2015
- This National Diabetes Month, you have a role in diabetes education and supportNov 26 , 2015
- Safe Texting in HealthCare: Do’s & Dont’sNov 18 , 2015
- Is TeleMedicine the future of healthcare ?Nov 13 , 2015
- Evaluating specific KPIs can improve business performanceNov 09 , 2015
- 50 Years of Medicare: More than 55 million Americans covered by MedicareSep 23 , 2015
- How Much Does Healthcare Cost Matter To A Patient?Sep 18 , 2015
- How does Affordable Care Act Change Your Practice?Sep 11 , 2015
- A ‘Don’t Do’ List to avoid patient no-showsAug 21 , 2015
- Add more patients and grow your medical business in 5 easy stepsAug 05 , 2015
- Medicare Trust Fund is now protected by the Fraud Prevention SystemJul 16 , 2015
- ICD-10: A Short StoryMay 19 , 2015
- Patient portals and patient engagement: Is there a link?Apr 21 , 2015
- Meaningful Use Stage 3: First LookApr 07 , 2015
- 6 Ways Physicians can Free Patient RecordsMar 17 , 2015
- Is the EHR market saturated?Dec 04 , 2014
- 5 Benefits of healthcare information exchanges for small practicesApr 22 , 2014
- New Study shows EMR Adoption Increases Patient Confidence, Loyalty and SatisfactionApr 22 , 2014
- Cloud-Based EMR Vendors and Patient Data SecurityApr 22 , 2014