- The telehealth movement is making headway throughout the medical industry, as more physicians and other professionals as well as patients are choosing video-based consultations as a way to strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and improve communication. Some innovative companies like TouchCare offer specific mobile health capabilities and telemedicine services that push forward the telehealth movement among the patient population.
“TouchCare has a provider-to-provider option it started implementing,” Dr. Kevin Biese, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics at UNC Hospital, told mHealthIntelligence.com about TouchCare solutions. “They actually have a network of providers through mobile health that I can dial in and include them in calls. I think the best practice is to use mobile health as part of a cohort of patients that you’re already taking care of.”
“If I am the covering primary care doctor in the group – even if you’re not my patient but I’m covering that night and since you’re my partner station – I know where to refer you for additional help,” Biese explained. “I think access to regional resources and being part of a larger healthcare network is the way that mobile health is used correctly.”
“We’re starting to do programs where not just physicians but also case managers, social workers, and visiting nurses use TouchCare to connect with their patients because they know their patients and they can follow-up with them over time,” Dr. Biese stated. “Under chronic patient management, you can use telehealth tools to connect with patients and see how they’re doing.”
“In those cases – in the language of care transitions, we talk about red flags – the hope is by using care managers and giving them the tools they can use to be more efficient, red flags can become yellow flags and you can catch patients’ conditions before they need to go to the ER,” Biese concluded.
Essentially, Dr. Biese supports the use of mobile health applications and telemedicine capabilities as well as the entire telehealth movement as a means for improving the quality of patient care and population health outcomes.
As more states like Delaware expand health insurance coverage for telemedicine services, the telehealth movement will likely grow across the nation and revolutionize care for many living in rural areas or those unable to travel to medical facilities.
There are specific steps that states can take to expand their policies in order to accelerate the telehealth movement. These include breaking down any geographic boundaries or technology restrictions. Also, ensuring that health insurers cover telemedicine services on the same level as in-person visits is key for stimulating provider participation in the telehealth movement.
“There’s a sea change going on within the physician community,” said Roy Schoenberg, MD, CEO of American Well. “Doctors see value in virtual visits for their patients and also in managing their own work-life balance. We’ve seen weekly physician inquiries about practicing online triple in less than six months.”