Telehealth, Wearables Tighten Provider-Patient Connection

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

Remote monitoring of high-risk individuals engages patients in self-care of chronic illness.

It’s become a mantra in healthcare: “Meet patients where they are.”

The emergent field of telehealth helps to make this a reality. Almost two-thirds of respondents to this year’s Telehealth and Telemedicine Survey have a direct connection to patients and health plan members in their homes via remote monitoring—a vital telehealth strategy for management of high-risk, high-cost populations that continues to surge in popularity.

Our fourth comprehensive Telehealth survey captured dozens of data points and trends, including how the use of ‘vintage’ tools like fax machines and land lines for telehealth delivery has given way to wireless and smart phone technologies patients carry on their person 24/7. Wireless telehealth applications jumped 13 percent in two years, respondents tell us, while telemedicine smart phone apps increased by 10 percent.

And let us not forget the wearables: 26 percent of healthcare respondents embrace this category of personal devices that are buckled or strapped onto the individuals whose care they manage and programmed to transmit health and fitness data. We can only speculate how the Apple® Watch, with its three rings that provide a visual snapshot of the wearer’s daily activity, will impact wearables metrics once the device debuts this summer.

High-tech obsessions and gadget-heads aside, telehealth live-streams care to populations needing it most: rural residents requiring specialist diagnostics but perhaps lacking the means or time to travel to the office of an orthopedist or a dermatologist, two specialties that participate in a groundbreaking multi-specialty telehealth collaborative in California.

Though telehealth faces a bandwidth worth of barriers, not the least of which are reimbursement and physician engagement, it’s exciting to visualize what this year’s respondents have in store for populations they serve. If the plans they shared come to fruition, telehealth in 2015 will variously link veterans, the mentally ill, women with high-risk pregnancies, pediatric patients and even employees at work sites to a hub of remote services designed to integrate care and boost population health outcomes.

Stay tuned.

Source: 2015 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Telemedicine

Telehealth & Telemedicine

2015 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Telemedicine delivers actionable new telehealth metrics on technologies, program components, successes and ROI from 115 healthcare organizations. This 60-page report, now in its fourth year, documents benchmarks on current and planned telehealth and telemedicine initiatives, with historical perspective from 2009 to present.

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