Integrating telemedicine and mHealth into the health system
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
How often do you hear the question, "Why don't you Google it?"
In today's society, we can find nearly everything we need on the Internet. We're in a constantly-evolving environment — especially when it comes to healthcare. Many people think futuristic possibilities when they hear about telemedicine and mobile health, but the reality is that both will increase productivity and efficiency throughout the health system in the coming years.
"The world of healthcare is undergoing a monumental change," said James Mault, M.D., FACS, vice president and chief medical officer for Qualcomm Life.
At the ATA 2014 Annual Meeting and Trade Show, Mault and his colleagues were discussing how the alternative to face-to-face communication — telemedicine — has grown remarkably in the past few years and is continuing to do so. In several different areas, telemedicine is closing the gap between providers and patients to create a more robust environment for patients to have access where ever they may need it.
"I fully believe that within the next five years, more than 50 percent of healthcare delivery will be virtual," said Edward M. Brown, ATA president and CEO of the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN). The convenience of telemedicine helps engage patients more, especially since technology is turning the whole world mobile right now.
Along with telemedicine, mobile health (mHealth) has become a new term used throughout healthcare practices. It's a novel practice right now, because it has not fully emerged into the everyday life of physicians and patients.
Through mHealth, services will be provided to patients through smartphones, tablets and PDAs. It's changing the way providers and patients communicate with each other — from synchronous to asynchronous. With asynchronous communication, the human element of delivering patient care is still occurring because it identifies the patients that need the appropriate human element and for allocation of appropriate resources based on specific needs.
In all, mHealth increases patient and family satisfaction by enabling a continuous care model. Mault showed the significant increase of patients seen from the different types of communication to ATA 2014 attendees. For example, a provider could increase from 100 to 2,500 calls to patients per week.
Both telemedicine and mHealth have made their way into many medical facilities and will be changing the way we all do business, whether you're a provider, nurse or patient.
"We are at a time where telehealth is in the news," ATA CEO Joanthan D. Linkous said. "It is growing like we have never seen it before. ... We have the tsunami that's coming, and we are all here waiting for it."
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