- As technologies continue to evolve and reform the healthcare industry, telehealth policy will play a major part in expanding medical care access to consumers residing in rural locations or unable to travel to healthcare facilities. Telemedicine services have been growing in popularity among the provider base and mHealthIntelligence.com spoke with Dr. Kevin Biese, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics at UNC Hospital, to learn more about the growth of telemedicine services.
“I am an Associate Professor with tenure in emergency medicine and geriatrics at UNC Hospital,” Biese stated. “What that really means is that my passion is taking care of older adults in the emergency department and figuring out better ways to take care of them. I do that here and I’m an adjunct professor at Mt. Sinai in New York. I have spoken at many places and traveled extensively to spread word on helping take better care of older adults.”
“Older adults are at high risk of falling into the chasms of our healthcare system. There are complicated, often fragile folks on lots of medication where transition of care becomes critically important,” he explained. “If an older adult is on five or six medications and has multiple medical problems, communication is much more important when folks get hurt.”
“In comes telehealth and mobile health as a potential way to address this,” Biese declared. “My concerns about mobile health are that it can and often does further segmentation of care. I’m concerned when patients who are already on several medicines call up a doctor who doesn’t know them to get another medicine and – if their medical records don’t come together – we could actually be doing harm.”
Dr. Biese works with TouchCare, which is a company that offers mobile health applications meant to keep healthcare providers and their patients connected and communicating via telemedicine services.
“I work with TouchCare whose goal is to help make it easier for physicians to connect with their own patients using mobile health in a very patient-centered, easy to use connection device. I use it for any patients leaving the emergency department including my older adults,” Biese mentioned. “It will do patients good to have a conversation with me the next day. I do it via video and it helps reassure patients.”
Whether it is fevers in children, a rash in adults, facial swelling, or abdominal pain, video-based telemedicine services have assisted doctors in assessing their patients’ health, according to Dr. Biese.
“I use TouchCare both for initial evaluation of someone’s acute complaint like a twisted ankle and also for follow-up consultations with patients,” he mentioned.
“I am of the firm belief that mobile health should be a part of a bigger healthcare system available to the patient,” he affirmed. “For example, I had a three-year-old with asthma and he had wheezing for the first time. Without video, the answer in that case is ‘Call 911. Your kid’s not breathing well.’ But with video, I looked at him and I knew he was okay then. He did not need to go off to the ER again. He was holding up his shirt, he was okay, and he wasn’t retracting back.”
“But what I was able to do then was hook him in with me that night and then his primary care doctor the next day would see him. So I’m seven states away in Iowa taking his call. I don’t know that I need to have a pre-established relationship. In other words, I do believe you can establish a patient-physician relationship over mobile health,” Biese concluded.