Posts Tagged ‘telemedicine’



Making Telehealth Work in the Clinic

February 21st, 2012
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In a previous blog post for Popper and Co, I discussed how telehealth can be a life-saving tool in rural and urban settings. As devices get more versatile and affordable, we will start seeing additional efficiencies in health care delivery. Moreover, patients will (if they aren’t already) start demanding it. But does telehealth work in every situation? And how should telehealth systems developers adapt to an individual practice’s needs?
 
The Center for Telehealth and Cybermedicine Research found that while enthusiasm for telehealth was high among patients and (some) caregivers, not every clinic could perceive a benefit. It is very easy, for example, to lose the advantages of this technology without first doing some preliminary research on your particular center and patients. Telehealth must be needs-driven, filling gaps in health services that are not effectively met.
 
In some cases, demand for telehealth may not be very high. If patients can find care at other facilities or may be reluctant to seek care for certain diseases, then telehealth may not be helpful. Similarly, if practitioners are reluctant to use telehealth tools, this reluctance may place such a system in jeopardy.
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Matchmaking: Digital Technology and Health Care?

February 16th, 2012
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In a recent Forbes article on the last FutureMed meeting in California, writer David Shaywitz expressed his concern that technology developers are more focused on their technology than with how it may be accepted by health care practitioners. But he also expressed hope that, soon, technology and the practice of health care might experience a meeting of minds (and possibly even hearts).
 
At Popper and Co., we make an effort to search for technology solutions that can truly make a difference in health care, and often we’ve been skeptical of the “latest shiny new thing.” While I believe that sometimes technology apps appear to be solutions in search of a problem, we are arriving at a point in time when a happy merger between health care and health technology may be feasible. Why?

     

  • Because we (the scientific and technology community) now understand enough about biology to adapt technology to address real clinical problems. Our knowledge of genetics alone allows us to design targeted (i.e., “personalized”) therapeutic solutions.
  • Because cost and resource constraints have led to patients being more engaged in the price and quality of their health care.
  • Because consumer power has forced many practitioners (and technologists) to consider the “might” of this market.
  • Because new technologies facilitate fundamental health service innovation for providers as well as patients.

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Telehealth Saves Lives, Reduces Costs: A Physician’s Perspective

February 9th, 2012
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Wireless technology is evolving in positive ways. It’s now more affordable, more accessible (thanks to broadband capacity), and more portable (via devices such as tablets and smartphones). And it is no exaggeration to say that this technology has made a life-saving difference for many patients who otherwise would not get care.
 
At the Center for Telehealth and Cybermedicine Research at the University of New Mexico, we studied the ability of telehealth tools (e.g., video connections, conference calling, electronic record sharing) to improve access and outcomes of rural New Mexicans suffering from a variety of health problems. In that role, we have been the incubator for several applications of telehealth designed to integrate the technologies that address important healthcare needs and gaps in access. One example was hepatitis C. While this disease is curable, multiple treatments are required and patients must be monitored for adverse effects. Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) was initially incubated in our Center under the leadership of Dr. Sanjeev Arora. That project was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrating how the program provided community healthcare providers with the expertise and tools they needed to treat hundreds, if not thousands, of people who previously were receiving no care for hepatitis C. In addition, outcomes of these remote patients were as good as outcomes of patients who traveled (often hundreds of miles) to the University’s medical center in Albuquerque.
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Has Online Medicine’s Big Day Finally Come? Rite Aid Takes on Telemedicine

October 6th, 2011
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There’s a definite romance developing between pharmacy outlets and medical organizations when it comes to consumer-driven opportunities in health care delivery.  We’ve continued to watch Medco’s foray into genetic testing, which lingers on with all of the predictability of a clumsy first date. Then last May came the relationship between Johns Hopkins Medicine and Walgreens. And recently, we learn of Rite Aid’s Partnership with OptumHealth to provide straight-to-the-doctor online video consultations at its Detroit locations.
 
Of all of these relationships parading around the consumer dance floor, it may be the Rite Aid deal that makes a real impact, especially on how medical institutions compete in the marketplace. Rite Aid intends to use telemedicine—which is not a new concept but one whose technology has certainly come of age—to have consumers interact in real-time with physicians and nurses. This brings up a host of questions concerning how primary care physicians may need to re-examine future business models. And what about ERs and walk-in clinics? Will this be the final test whereby online services trump the hassle of a noisy waiting room?
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Takeaways from My Interview with ATA’s President

January 24th, 2011
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I had the very fortunate opportunity to meet with Dale Alverson, M.D., Medical Director of the Center for Telehealth and Cybermedicine Research at the University of New Mexico and current President of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA).   Dr. Alverson has been instrumental in bringing telemedicine to New Mexico for the last several years, and is now actively engaged in bringing telemedicine to the rest of the world.
 
Telemedicine, defined by the ATA, is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve patients’ health status. Closely associated with telemedicine is the term “telehealth,” which is often used to encompass a broader definition of remote healthcare that does not always involve clinical services. Videoconferencing, transmission of still images, e-health (including patient portals), remote monitoring of vital signs, continuing medical education and nursing call centers are all considered part of telemedicine and telehealth.
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