Mobile healthcare, telemedicine, telehealth, BYOD

Telehealth News

Telehealth a Major Opportunity for C-Level Executives

By Ryan Mcaskill

A new White Paper explains why telehealth services are one of the top trends for healthcare executives to watch.

- Examining the numerous lists of top trends in the healthcare landscape, one of the major topics continues to be mobile healthcare devices, applications and telehealth. These are not only things that industry professionals need to be aware of, but executives as well.

The ECRI Institute released a White Paper that focused on the top 10 things that hospital c-suite executives need to be on the lookout for in 2015. The list contains a mix of novel, new and emerging technologies that will be a point of emphasis in the next year.

One of the items on the list is telehealth. This is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technology to support long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. It requires patients to be monitored remotely, whether through a web portal, mobile application or specific piece of technology like a scale in the home or wearable sensors.

According to the report, telemedicine may have finally reached the tipping point where proof of concept has been achieved and return-on-investment concerns have been limited. A number of hospitals and healthcare providers have been running telehealth programs successfully for several years. On top of this, information software and hardware development companies have created some remarkable technological advances.

“Most telehealth services, however, have been developed in isolation from each other, often at the request of an individual clinician and with little strategic analysis,” the report reads. “Is telehealth now an imperative service rather than a niche application?”

One of the biggest things pushing the use of telemedicine is technological advancement, specifically, the way that wearable sensors have evolved. Devices that can be used to monitor vital signs like a patient in the hospital were typically bulky and could be complicated to use properly. However, with the advances of mobile technology, these devices are been simplified, reduced in size and paired with consumer technology that they already know how to use.

The report estimate that the mobile sensor marketplace will increase from $3 billion to at least $30 billion in the next five years. This can be attributed to the ability to monitor specific diseases in real-time, which can be huge for critical care patients. On top of that, lawmakers are pushing for new legislation that would allow telehealth services to substitute for in-person care. Also, the push for value-based payments makes alternative solutions like telehealth more popular.

The report lays out several things that healthcare executives need to start doing. This includes knowing current community needs, develop and maintain a telehealth plan, examine the telehealth marketplace, create an internal champion team to keep pushing the service, plan patient education strategies and ensure that IT departments are capable managing the technology.

“So while telehealth barriers remain (e.g., reimbursement, licensure), the concept is beyond proof, though hard evidence that it provides benefits for all clinical applications is not yet conclusive,” the report reads. “Hospitals and clinicians are trying to figure out how best to proceed.”

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