Return Of The House Call: Telemedicine Gaining Ground -John G. Baresky

On The Go With Telemedicine

Telemedicine Here To Stay…

Healthcare has always been an industry synonymous with change. How it is paid for, who provides it, procedures performed, medicines prescribed are touchpoints which are top-of-mind when it comes to healthcare industry changes. Telemedicine and how / where healthcare is provided is increasingly becoming a mainstay topic.

Healthcare, Technology And Social Media Combined…

Healthcare delivery has evolved from essentially hospitals, private practice groups and the nostalgic doctor who made house calls to health systems, satellite clinics, network providers, “doc-in-the-box” immediate care chains, retail pharmacy clinics and other care provider models. Telemedicine is steadily becoming an ingredient in the new care delivery formula. Mobile technology and many of the social media / content sharing attributes exhibited in basic texting, FaceTime, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube platforms are readily adaptable as pivotal resources to accelerate adoption of telemedicine.

Key Drivers Of Telemedicine:

  • Cost Reduction: patient out-of-pocket, managed care, facility operations
  • Access To Care: rural addresses, limited patient mobility, congested metropolitan transit, business / personal travel, convenience
  • Technology: mobile / smartphone performance, high quality audio / visual, instant messaging, email, texting, EHR / EMR, remote monitoring
  • Clinicians: physician and nurse shortage, widening role of nurse practitioners

For now, telemedicine does have its limits but they are being steadily overcome. As technology, clinician, payer and industry / consumer acceptance grows, telemedicine will play a larger role in routine and perhaps intermediate advanced patient care. Accuracy and quality of care must be as good if not better than what is delivered through current point-of-care venues. Cost advantages must be proven. Positive care and cost outcomes need to quantified and consistently achieved.

Possibilities…

Telemedicine opens new dimensions in healthcare delivery, finances, managed care and technology:

  • Specialized apps for smartphone audio, video and instant messaging centered on clinician / patient dialogue, vital signs
  • Standards for billing, retention of A / V recordings, EMR / EHR
  • Techniques to decipher symptoms and vital signs via clinician, patient dialogue and vital signs collected by smartphone apps
  • Avoidance of overlooking other mild to serious comorbidities not readily discernible
  • Determinations as to when a patient has to come in for in-person consultation / treatment
  • Billing / reimbursement aligned to patient, clinician, managed care organization, Medicare, Medicaid, DHA / TRICARE stakeholders
  • Technology standards and integration for smartphones, remote diagnostics and healthcare provider IT platforms

What The Future Holds…

Looking ahead, the advantages of technology have provided some of the base resources to return to a yesteryear concept of the time-honored house call. In telemedicine, the clinician / patient connection is still one-on-one; the “in-person” component is modified. While patient / clinician communication may be enough for treating routine illnesses via telemedicine consultation, remote diagnostics can play a huge roll in routine follow ups and ongoing patient monitoring. It will be interesting to see what medical specialties, provider organizations, patient types and managed care entities champion the use of telemedicine, make it a conventional part of their care models and look to increasingly widen its scope of use.

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John G. Baresky — Brand Marketing, Product Management, Digital Marketing, Marketing Leadership, Product Launches, Marketing Strategy, Digital Strategy, Social Media, Market Access, Market Research, Marketing And Sales Collaboration