2016 Connected Health Trends: Telehealth & Healthcare Everywhere - Perficient Blogs
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2016 Connected Health Trends: Telehealth & Healthcare Everywhere

Telehealth Impacting Access, Cost and Quality

And here is our last trend in Connected Health for 2016. As we mentioned at the top of the list, we opted not to publish the posts in our ranked order. We actually want to get your opinion on the matter first. Then, to see our order, you can download the full 2016 Connected Health trends report. So, could this very last trend be the very first trend on the list? It could be since we find ourselves in a world where these real life patient stories still exist:

  1. In Cincinnati, a man boards a MegaBus bound for Chicago twice per month. Unlike the business travelers sitting next to him, he’s not lured by the promise of free Wi-Fi and power outlets. Rather, this Cincinnati native sits on a bus 12 hours round trip so that he can have access to a particular physician that specializes in treating his illness.
  2. In rural Pennsylvania, a middle-aged woman is diagnosed with Stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme. Her doctor gives her three-to-six months to live, but the closest hospital is a one hour drive from her home. Not wanting to spend her remaining days in a hospital room so far from loved ones, her family takes shifts around the clock to provide her care during her battle with cancer.
  3. In California, a young man is self-employed and dealing with the pressures of providing for a young family given tough economic circumstances. His family is self-insured under a high-deductible plan, and he finds it difficult to make room in his busy schedule to sit in a waiting room for a preventive care visit or to correctly manage his diabetes protocol.

These three real life stories bring us to the very heart of Connected Health where we find this definition:

“Connected Health is a model for healthcare delivery that uses technology to provide healthcare remotely.”

In this sense, Connected Health has enjoyed an upward swing in investment over the past couple of years. Innovations in healthcare technology are being used to provide innovative treatment options to these individuals and millions more like them across the nation. However, that swing will begin to dominate this year as telehealth vendors begin to gain traction by way of partnerships with both health plans and healthcare providers and reimbursement policies continue to mature. In order to gain readiness for this adoption of telehealth we need:

  1. Digital transformation within healthcare organizations that allow patients and clinicians to come together in the design and maintenance of care programs. At the very heart of “healthcare everywhere” we find digital transformation. In fact, a healthcare organization’s readiness for healthcare everywhere can easily be mapped against the digital transformation maturity curve. This requires an examination of seven different attributes of an organization: 1) Patient/Member Insight, 2) Strategy, 3) Design Process, 4) Enabling Technologies, 5) Measurement, 6) Operations, and 7) Culture. With insights from these seven attributes, your organization’s readiness for healthcare everywhere can be assessed and a realistic plan for future adoption can be created.
  2. Adoption of interoperability and data exchange standards. Digital transformation helps map out the use of digital technologies across the care paradigm. These innovations place demand on both the EHR and health information exchange technologies, which will unquestionaby benefit from interoperability. The many data collection devices required for telehealth need to be tied together with bidirectional standardized messages. The future of interoperability is to bind together a wide network of real-time, life-critical data that not only transform healthcare but become the new way of providing healthcare.

The advancement of telehealth technology is breaking down barriers around the world, and can reduce spiraling medical costs as a result. Telehealth can provide our Cincinnati MegaBus traveler with the ability to provide medical data to his Chicago physician remotely. Virtual visits give him a way to meet with his physician without the long commute. Remote patient monitoring has proven extremely effective in treating cancer and in helping reach patients that live in rural locations. This would provide great comfort to the family in Pennsylvania. Telehealth would also help our busy father care for his chronic diabetes and get the necessary preventive care he needs to be in optimum health.

The Year of Telehealth is just one of the trends we explore in our new guide, The Definitive Guide to Connected Health 2016: 10 Trends You Need to Know. Download the guide to see where this trend falls and to discover the other Connected Health trends healthcare executives must be aware of. In the guide we also provide insights to help organizations not only survive – but thrive – in the age of consumer-driven healthcare.

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