After decades of increasing acceptance from patients, providers and payers, telemedicine in healthcare is reaching a “tipping point,” argue some experts. This is a breakthrough that won’t just blur the lines between traditional care and tech-based delivery solutions like remote patient management (RPM) and virtual visits, but erase them altogether.
“I truly believe we may soon stop using those words,” says Wendy Deibert, a nurse-turned-executive who directed Mercy Hospital’s groundbreaking SafeWatch eICU program. “It is just going to be the way we deliver health. It will be the standard. … We are connecting patients and providers and giving treatment and care, just in a different way.”
Commenting on a telemedicine study shared by HP Healthcare at MobiHealthNews, Deibert attributes the expansion of digital healthcare to a number of industry-wide factors, including:
- The need to correct an ongoing shortage of clinicians
- Lack of access to care in rural and remote areas
- Declining numbers of medical students
- An aging population with more chronic diseases, requiring more and better care
Now that it’s become accepted by more and more organizations, and federal reimbursement allowances for Medicare and Medicaid are expanding each year, the role of telemedicine in healthcare is poised to grow into a more fully integrated aspect of healthcare as a whole, rather than a piecemeal, one-solution-at-a-time integration.
‘A Partner Who Enables You to Do What You Need to Do’
At Care Innovations®, we’ve long predicted this merging of telemedicine with the day-to-day operations of the traditional healthcare industry. After all, the success of any telehealth program — such as our own Health Harmony platform, which was used to create the successful, standard-defining Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network — comes not from technical expertise, but rather a focus on solving existing challenges.
In other words, the services surrounding telemedicine technology — e.g., logistics, patient enrollment, patient engagement, clinical monitoring — are really what drive a program's success.
“There's so much more to a program than just the technology,” advise our experts in a series of educational videos from the RPM Academy. “There needs to be constant, consistent planning throughout the lifespan of the program. The goal of working with the remote patient management vendor hopefully isn't so much to join up with a technology company, but rather to join up with a partner who enables you to do what you need to do.”
“RPM goes beyond technology by starting with an overall program design,” explains Care Innovations CEO Randy Swanson in a video from the RPM Academy. “When we think about it, we think about the patients’ point of view, the clinicians’ point of view, and the caregivers’ point of view. And technology really serves as that bridge to connect all three of them to lead to the best possible outcome.”
“It really is about understanding people,” agrees Consumer Experience Expert Karissa Price-Rico, PhD in the video. “And meeting people where they are, and designing the workflows and the services to go around that technology to provide for a successful program."
“Is it about adherence, or is it about physiology, or is it about behavior change?” adds Chief Clinical Officer Julie Cherry (RN, MSN). “It's the model. And then the technology choices are based on who the population is, what kind of technologies are feasible for that population, and it becomes, as you can see, a tool in the toolbox. It's about the model of care and what you're doing to deliver care differently.”
Telemedicine in Healthcare: How to Build a Successful Program
To this end, our experts and others recommend partnering with a telemedicine solutions provider who can offer a truly turnkey system that’s fully engineered to integrate with all your existing processes. That means working to continuously improve operational efficiencies and reduce risk by combining ongoing population health management expertise with sophisticated data gathering and analytics.
In other words, it means building a system that makes smart use of technology without being dominated or defined by it. It’s a system built upon a virtuous loop of information that enables the clinicians and caregivers on your team to care for more patients, more effectively, while also empowering them with patient monitoring info to alter care plans as needed on a day-by-day basis.
Today’s most striking examples of telemedicine in healthcare were created by innovators with the expertise to navigate emerging technologies and population health insights to create customized, ongoing solutions aimed at improving care, outcomes and efficiencies — and who followed through with the entire process, from initial consultation and enrollment to deployment, integration and expansion.
If you’re interested in learning how to leverage our expertise to build telemedicine solutions, we’re standing by to answer your questions: Contact Care Innovations today to schedule a complimentary, one-on-one consultation with a telehealth expert.