Monthly Archives: November 2014

Are Doctors Too Connected To Their Technology?

Today technology has become an inseparable part of the healthcare industry, facilitating effective treatment, lowering medical costs, and bettering continuity of care. While doctors are leveraging technology to provide treatment and care, there may be concern that they are becoming too connected to technology. A current report on MedcityNews.com discussed a survey that revealed some shocking truths about how present-day medical practitioners are using technology and their attitudes toward it.
Recently a survey was conducted at the Integrative Health and Medicine conference on 754 medical practitioners, 78% of whom are physicians. According to the survey, over half of all healthcare practitioners surveyed confessed to feeling more attached to computers than their patients on “most days.” Moreover, 65% of medical practitioners have considered quitting medicine, as they no longer find it rewarding. While this second survey from the conference revealed some startling statistics, the first one had some equally eye-opening revelations:
According to the first survey, only 19% of healthcare providers using telemedicine are being reimbursed for it by insurance. In spite of such roadblocks, healthcare providers are continuing the use of telemedicine – 67% of respondents are either providing services using telemedicine now, or have plans to do it in the coming years.
Here are some more findings from the survey:
• More than half the time, 56% of respondents feel disappointed with their healthcare practice.
• 62% admit to having a patient overload.
• 5% feel exhausted for an average of fifteen or more days every month due to their work schedule.
• 31% feel burned out for more than half the time due to work.
• More than one third of respondents reported that they were not getting full reimbursement for over 40% of patient visits.
Despite the tech wave sweeping over the healthcare landscape, there is a disconnect existing in the system that is not only coming in the way of more fruitful tech adoption, but is also causing dissatisfaction among healthcare professionals.
The survey results certainly raise some serious concerns for the industry, and time will tell how well those concerns are met. Are you as surprised by the findings as we are?

Jim Colquhoun

About Jim Colquhoun

Jim Colquhoun is the Chief Technologist for Avidex. Jim brings an exceptional record of management and operational experience, as well as expertise in the design and integration of communications, AV, and broadcast systems. Jim can be reached at jcolquhoun@avidexav.com

Skills Based Routing Graphic

Skills Based Routing: The Smart Way to Communicate

The accurate and efficient flow of information is essential in a medical environment.  A patient’s call to a hospital or clinic needs to be routed to the right person in a timely fashion.  Patient information needs to be transmitted efficiently to medical staff and caregivers too.

Traditional automated call distribution (ACD) systems utilize queuing methods.  More specifically, ACD systems send callers to the next available representative on a first-come first-serve basis.  However, ACD systems can be cumbersome and inefficient, particularly in a medical setting.  With an ACD system, for example, a patient may need to talk with several representatives before they are matched with the right operator, department or caregiver.

Skills Based Routing (SBR) systems, on the other hand, are designed to gather information from an incoming call and assign that call to the representative with the skill-set most suited to handling that caller and his or her situation.

Here are several ways SBR can help medical organizations:

  1. Caller ID: As much info is gathered at the outset, sometimes even before an operator answers the call. For example, SBR systems can use caller ID (and the patient’s calling history and medical file) to route calls to the agent most likely to be of help.
  2. Global View: Allow operators to track and accumulate patient information during every stage of the call’s life cycle. As a result, patients will not have to repeat information they provided earlier. Similarly, operators will always have a complete patient profile, including the latest information, when receiving a transferred call. Further, operators will also have a picture of who is available to take the patient’s call.
  3. Efficient Workflow: Hospitals deal with a wide range of calls every day; emergencies, physician referrals, general inquiries, sales calls and much more. Efficient routing is essential to an organization’s workflow. For example, quickly ascertaining whether callers require language interpretation, immediate attention or administrative personnel can help hospitals allocate resources appropriately.
  4. Unified Communications: Many hospitals lack a unified or well-functioning call center. Often, hospitals will have multiple call centers for separate departments. In such cases, it is difficult (if not impossible) to transfer patients to the appropriate party, let alone relay vital information about the patient and the reason they are calling to a third party. As a result, antiquated calling systems entail reduced customer satisfaction, misdirected calls, institutional errors and lost time. In a medical setting, mishandled calls can be a matter of life and death. SBR systems, on the other hand, provide caregivers with a unified, efficient and cohesive communications platform.
  5. Improved Service and Reduced Costs: Studies show that handling a call correctly from the outset improves customer satisfaction while reducing organizational costs. With call routing, skill-specific operators handle the calls that they are most suited to, which means an organization’s resources are deployed most effectively and efficiently. The result is improved patient care, lower operating expenses and reduced legal liability.

SBR systems help integrate patient data seamlessly into the call experience, leading to improved patient outcomes.  The technology is especially advantageous during natural disasters or peak activity situations when hospital resources are likely to be stretched thin.  In sum, skills based routing helps hospitals and caregivers respond more intelligently and efficiently to their patients.

Resources:

  1. http://answerstat.com/article/skills-based-routing/
  2. http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/skills-based-routing-key
Bob Higginbotham

About Bob Higginbotham

Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at bobh@avidexav.com

The Changing Landscape for Healthcare CIOs

Over the past decade, the healthcare sector has gone through significant changes, and with the growing importance of technology in healthcare, the change has been substantial. The healthcare sector has not only embraced tech innovations such as telehealth, remote monitoring, and unified communications, but it is also developing new ways to implement these innovations, from creating better treatment procedures to positively impacting the overall healthcare system. As such, the role of hospital CIOs has transformed drastically.

A recent article in MedcityNews.com provides a view into the moving landscape of the Healthcare CIO as a major influencer and decision maker. Comparing the current state of a hospital CIO to that of an “embattled soldier”, the article cites the views of Jim Turnbull, CIO for University Utah Healthcare. He has started describing his job as VUCA, a military acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

This isn’t so strange considering that today’s healthcare market is more dynamic than ever before. Over the past three years, as most healthcare IT departments have been busy implementing the EHR technology, “When they lifted up their heads, they realized the world had changed dramatically,” said Turnbull at CHIME14 in San Antonio, calling the state of healthcare IT “intense.” Down the road, hospitals will face a growing need to consider wearable technology, the concept of accountable care, more robust security for its tech spaces, and varying reimbursement models, among many other concerns. Their ability to grasp needs and evolve accordingly will determine how well they can use technology to combat health issues and give patients a better experience, every time.

Rick Schooler, Vice President and CIO for Orlando Health, however, feels “intense” is too mild a term to describe the tumultuous state of today’s healthcare industry. “There really is too much going on at once,” he says. “What’s going on in our organizations is really nuts. Our people are getting jerked around almost endlessly.”

According to Turnbull, given the current state of healthcare, CIOs must emphasize collaboration and partnership as the key to maintain the fine balance. And, patients, of course, should be prioritized. This is how present-day CIOs need to deal with the dynamically shifting landscape of healthcare tech. It will be interesting to watch how the industry adapts under this constant state of change.

At Avidex AV, we seek to partner with healthcare organizations to deliver audio, video, collaboration and telemedicine solutions that drive innovation and improved efficiencies for our clients. Let’s connect to see how we can help your organization meet its technology needs.

Joel Harris

About Joel Harris

Joel Harris brings invaluable insight to the Avidex team in his role as CEO, with years of experience leading national technology, healthcare and business organizations. You can reach Joel at jharris@avidexav.com

Polycom_PractCart_Front

Medicine Going Mobile: Two Telemedicine Trends Driving Advances in Healthcare

Medicine is increasingly going mobile.  Video conferencing, satellite communications, Wi-Fi and other communications technologies are transforming the field of medicine by allowing healthcare providers to treat patients at a distance.  Mobile medical vans and telemedicine carts are two trends that are revolutionizing the delivery of healthcare.

Mobile Units:  Today, state-of-the-art medical resources can travel to you.  A typical mobile telemedicine unit is a virtual hospital on wheels.  Equipment on board these mobile clinics include: cardiac facilities, x-ray machines, ultrasound devices, pathology labs, and satellite dishes linking the mobile units to more advanced health centers.  Thanks to mobile medicine:

  • Rural residents can utilize video conferencing equipment to consult with remotely located primary physicians and specialists.
  • Diagnostic equipment can monitor and transmit a patient’s vital data — blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, etc. – to the consulting physician instantaneously.

As a result, a virtual consultation can be every bit as good as a real-life visit to the doctor.

Mobile units have a dual benefit:  they improve patient access to primary and specialist care while saving patients both time and travel expenses.

Telemedicine Carts:  Hospitals, clinics and assisted living facilities are increasingly using telemedicine carts.  Telemedicine carts are portable medical stations, which can be wheeled from room to room.  Medical facilities are using telemedicine carts to:

  • Connect patients with remotely-located physicians or specialists on an as-needed basis. This helps hospitals avoid the expense of having specialists on staff around the clock.
  • Monitor patients remotely. In many cases, nurses can make “virtual” rounds.
  • Quickly assess patients (this allows hospitals avoid medical errors or costly patient diversions).
  • Provide in-home care to patients. Studies show that proper in-home care reduces patient readmission rates.
  • Unify communications and data sharing. Most telemedicine carts can connect easily to an institution’s network via Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable. As a result, patient data can easily be shared with all members of the healthcare team.
  • Maximize flexibility. Telemedicine carts are scalable and diagnostic peripherals can be added as needed. The plug-n-play capability means carts are easily tailored to a specific institution’s or patient’s needs.
  • Allocate resources wisely. Telemedicine carts are portable, which allows hospitals to utilize the same resources to serve multiple patients.

Portability, intuitive one-touch screens, HD video conferencing, content sharing applications and secure data storage are just a few of the features found in today’s telemedicine carts.   The carts can be used wherever primary care is delivered: in hospitals, clinics, assisted-living facilities, but also in homes, schools, jails, disaster zones, off-shore facilities and even in paramedic situations.

Telemedicine is taking healthcare to a whole new level.  Mobile units and carts allow patients to consult with physicians and specialists regardless of geography.  Telemedicine technology allows remotely located primary physicians and specialists to collaborate with their peers regarding patient care.  Telemedicine devices help connect emergency service providers in the field to hospital resources.  Quicker assessment, faster care and better communication are just a few of the features telemedicine helps deliver. Simply put, going mobile means better medicine.

Resources:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oASpDTS6sto
  2. http://www.eweek.com/mobile/tely-labs-unveils-mts-100-mobile-telemedicine-cart/

At Avidex AV, we seek to partner with healthcare organizations to deliver audio, video, collaboration and telemedicine solutions that drive innovation and improved efficiencies for our clients. Let’s connect to see how we can help your organization meet its technology needs.

Bob Higginbotham

About Bob Higginbotham

Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at bobh@avidexav.com

Case Study – Remote Monitoring in ICU

While telemedicine is creating ripples in the healthcare sector, remote care is being adopted by many clinics and healthcare providers to offer better healthcare to patients without the escalating cost of traditional medicine. An article published in EHRIntelligence.com earlier this year delineated the current state of telemedicine and remote monitoring facilities in the U.S through a case study of remote monitoring applied by Missouri-based Catholic health system, the Sisters of Mercy Health System. As the 6th largest Catholic health system in the U.S, Mercy boasts a well-developed telemedicine infrastructure that enables round-the-clock monitoring of patients, both in-house and remote. With an innovative tele-ICU program serving thousands of patients, Mercy is well on its way to opening the gates to nation’s first dedicated telehealth center in 2015.

In the article, the Vice President of Mercy’s Telehealth Services, Wendy Diebert, explained how Mercy uses telehealth for cases of intensive care and for monitoring most critically-ill patients. How did they do it? Let’s take a look:

They have a robust telehealth infrastructure

While most healthcare systems start with e-consultation as the first step toward adopting telemedicine, Mercy launched its telemedicine campaign with the e-ICU first. With over 450 tele-ICU beds across Missouri, 15 hospitals and 28 ICU units, they have approximately10-12 nurses for each shift, and five physicians for round-the-clock support. All of Mercy’s clinics have at least three telemedicine rooms to facilitate remote monitoring and treatment for all kinds of healthcare issues.

Their telehealth system is agnostic to EHR         

Mercy’s telehealth software is agnostic to EHR, which allows them to assess the level of patient care on a broader level. They analyze and compare the data from various ICUs and care centers in their systems to evaluate their performance. This helps them to apply the best performance metrics to all the other ICUs in their system.

On reimbursement and physician licensing challenges

Mercy has two and a half FTEs solely dedicated to licensing, credentialing, and privileging. While they have been credentialed at most hospitals, they still have some applications pending to be credentialed, which will make their processes even more robust.

Primary takeaways from Mercy’s case study:

This is a fascinating look at telemedicine at work. Some of the key takeaways and factors contributing to their overall success with this program include:

Interoperability of systems and software can be achieved by using agnostic technology that fuels better expansion and collaboration.

  • Having only a telemedicine infrastructure won’t drive results. Infrastructure needs to be combined with appropriate healthcare staff to create an efficient telemedicine healthcare system. In other words, building it is great, but if you don’t allocate resources for the staff you’ll need to keep it running, it most likely won’t scale.
  • Keeping the patients in their own community while they can receive the best degree of treatment and care should be the main motto of telemedicine facilities.

Have you included any of these methods in your telemedicine strategy?

Bob Higginbotham

About Bob Higginbotham

Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at bobh@avidexav.com

computer with dr and stethascope

How Telemedicine is Changing Healthcare

With more than half of U.S. hospitals treating patients remotely, telemedicine is fast pervading our current healthcare system. From consultation and diagnosis to treatment, telemedicine is being used by medical professionals for almost all stages of healthcare service. As an added bonus, patients are growing increasingly more comfortable with the idea of being treated via telemedicine.

A recent article in USNews.com sheds light on how telemedicine is changing the face of today’s healthcare. Citing the views and experiences shared in the U.S. News Hospital of Tomorrow forum by leading telemedicine professionals, the article brings forth the myriad ways in which telemedicine is impacting lives.

Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, discussed the extensive reach of telemedicine to rural areas which are not only miles away from world-class healthcare facilities, but which also lack proper healthcare infrastructure. To date, the national telemedicine network numbers in over 100 networks in the country at present, and he predicted that online medical consultations via webcam reached almost 1 million patients this year alone. He also stressed the role of remote monitoring in treating stroke patients, which might pave the way for high quality care at lower cost. Naturally, given both the convenience and the reduced costs, patients are accepting telemedicine as a viable healthcare and treatment solution.

According to Steven Sternberg, deputy rankings editor of U.S.News, the future of patient-doctor relationship will involve a screen. He also noted that screens are already in use in some areas, stating that “in some emergency rooms in San Francisco, you can walk into a kiosk, answer a set of questions and your course of care will be decided by an algorithm in a computer.”

Applauding telemedicine for leading more efficient decision-making in critical healthcare situations, Steven A. Fuhrman, eICU medical director at Sentara Healthcare, has found telemedicine to boost staff efficiency and measures for proactive care. Incidentally, Sentara Healthcare is the first remote critical care clinic in the U.S.

Assistant professor of orthopaedic oncology at The University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Robert L. Satcher Jr., predicted the growth of telemedicine as a viable method for cancer care and treatment, especially in rural areas with limited access to quality healthcare.

As you can see from just the snippets shared above which are discussed at greater length in the full article, with telemedicine growing in leaps and bounds, that time is near when it might replace traditional medicine as the primary choice of healthcare method for professionals and patients alike.

Jim Colquhoun

About Jim Colquhoun

Jim Colquhoun is the Chief Technologist for Avidex. Jim brings an exceptional record of management and operational experience, as well as expertise in the design and integration of communications, AV, and broadcast systems. Jim can be reached at jcolquhoun@avidexav.com

Microsoft Lync: Changing the Face of Healthcare

polycom lync systemIn today’s world, organizations need state-of-the-art communications systems to manage workflow, facilitate collaboration and respond to customer enquiries. Unified communications are especially important for medical facilities because timely communication can often be a matter of life and death.  Of course, hospitals, doctor offices and medical clinics can be chaotic places.  Therefore, technologies that can improve communications and organize workflow can be of immense benefit.  Microsoft Lync, a platform that streamlines information sharing, is advancing the way healthcare institutions deliver care to their patients.

Microsoft Lync is a communications platform that can be easily integrated into an institution’s existing software system. The program’s core features include:  videoconferencing, IM and voice over IP, but these features are designed to be extendible to other Microsoft programs such as Word, Excel, Office, PowerPoint, Outlook and Microsoft Exchange Server.

In a nutshell, Microsoft Lync allows all members of the care giving community to communicate and collaborate more effectively.

Here are some of the ways medical institutions are benefitting from this tool:

  1. Remote Telemedicine: Medical institution can deliver consultative care to rural communities via video conference.
  2. Intuitive One-Touch Icons: The program features intuitive icons, which means that vital information is only a click away. A nurse who needs to reach a doctor regarding a patient’s care can immediately route important calls to that doctor’s laptop or mobile device simply by clicking the physician’s icon on the screen.
  3. Global Overview: The Lync platform gives health providers a global overview of their healthcare environment. For example, one feature allows each member of a medical team to see at a glance which patients need care at any given moment. Indeed, caregivers can even listen to audio files describing why the patient is in the hospital. Further, virtually any hospital staff member can pick up the phone or check their computer and see at a glance which of their colleagues is available to handle an emergency.
  4. Virtual Rounds: Nurses can check on patients remotely, which can help them see more patients in less time as they make their rounds.
  5. Better Patient Assessment: Hospitals using Lync have seen substantial reductions in costly patient diversions.
  6. Improved Communication: Unified platforms reduce miscommunication and improve collaboration. In addition to video conferencing and audio communications, Microsoft Lync provides a unified collaborative platform where remotely located participants can work together in real-time using virtual whiteboards, presentation software and other on-line meeting forums.

Here are two ways Microsoft’s technology is making a tangible difference in the lives of patients:

  1. St Luke’s Health System in Idaho is using Lync to deliver health and nutrition counseling to cancer patients via video conference.
  2. The Victorian Deaf Society is using Lync’s robust visual, text messaging and collaborative capabilities to help the hearing impaired communicate and interact better in the workplace.

Microsoft Lync is helping healthcare teams collaborate better, improve workflow, cuts cost and improve patient outcomes. Microsoft Lync is yet another example of how an ounce of hi-tech may be worth a pound of cure.

Resources:

  1. http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Health-Care-IT/Microsoft-Lync-Enables-Remote-Health-Care-Counseling-for-Cancer-Patients-755248/
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVIsVka8UQU
  3. http://snomchannel.com/hospitals-adopt-microsoft-lync-to-improve-patient-care/
  4. http://scienceroll.com/2012/11/29/microsoft-lync-tries-to-improve-patient-care-and-clinical-workflow/
Bob Higginbotham

About Bob Higginbotham

Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at bobh@avidexav.com

Why Telemedicine is Suddenly Heating Up

Telemedicine is currently the talk of every journal, article, symposium, or conference pertaining to medicine and healthcare. While the telemedicine is finding popularity in medical facilities across the U.S., patients are embracing it as an efficient and highly cost-effective form of healthcare. Considering the fact that telemedicine isn’t a new concept to hit the field of medicine, what took it so long to find its moment of fame?

In recent article published on Forbes, Todd Hixon, an investor with New Atlantic Ventures, a launch-pad for early-stage companies, discussed why telemedicine has become a subject of recent interest. Telemedicine has a great application in extending treatment to rural areas and to those places which are deprived of traditional medical facilities. In fact, telemedicine is being embraced as a potent and cost-effective means of healthcare by patients and doctors alike. However, Hixon points out that these benefits of telemedicine have been known for more than a decade and should not be taken as a reason for the current boom in telemedicine.

The doctor-patient relationship has undergone a sea of change in the last few decades. In the past, the relationship between the patient and the doctor used to be a long-term one, bordering on a life-long commitment on the doctor’s part to ensure good health and well-being of his patients. According to Hixon, the real benefit of telemedicine lies in the revival of “relationship medicine,” an idea that attaches prime importance to the doctor-patient relationship. Through telemedicine doctors can monitor their patients around the clock, while patients can easily and quickly alert their doctors of any physical discomfort, pain etc., in real time, right when these things occur.

With a direct emphasis on relationship-based medicine, telemedicine offers both the doctor and the patient the benefits of seamless conversation, which leads to better diagnosis, treatment, and cure. This is the real reason behind the sudden popularity of telemedicine.

What do you think? Do you agree? Why do you think telemedicine is on the rise?

Bob Higginbotham

About Bob Higginbotham

Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at bobh@avidexav.com

What Can the VA Teach the Next Generation of Telemedicine Adopters?

As the popularity of telehealth is growing exponentially, medical facilities across the U.S. are trying to find the best ways to adopt this technology. With its telehealth services growing at a rate of nearly 22% a year, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affair is, undoubtedly, one of the best advocates for telehealth and the perfect torchbearer for telehealth adoption.

A recent article that appeared in Medcitynews.com discussed how the VA is taking its telehealth initiative forward with success. At the Connected Health Symposium in Boston the last week of October, Neil Evans, co-director of Connected Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs, suggested that in order to successfully implement telehealth, facilities must do so by the means of their nurses and physicians. The article quoted Evans as saying, “Healthcare is a relationship based on trust, particularly the relationship veterans have with their providers,”

“What we really find is…when patients are invited to participate in telehealth by their personal provider, it increases adoption tremendously and patients are far more likely to enroll in the platform.”

Stressing the importance of connecting telehealth services with e-health records, Evans revealed that 2.5 million veterans had registered themselves with VA’s patient portal called My HealtheVet. While it makes health data such as lab tests, vital signs, and prescription medication accessible to the users, it provides the facility of secure messaging as well.

Other panelists at the symposium included American Well CEO, Aaron Schoenberg and WellPoint’s chief strategy officer, Dr. Martin Silverstein, who shared their insights on the subject of telehealth adoption by medical organizations as well. While Schoenberg emphasized the importance of their mobile app that had led to 100 times more virtual visits, Silverstein spoke about the significance of the context of (patients’) environment.

However, the major challenges impeding the wider adoption of telehealth includes reimbursement issues, as well as the patient’s comfort level with telehealth. As such, the doctors and caregivers have a huge responsibility to familiarize patients with the technology and promote its benefits, just like the VA is doing.

Do you think the VA is our role model for telehealth?

Bob Higginbotham

About Bob Higginbotham

Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at bobh@avidexav.com

Telemedicine: On the Frontlines in the Fight Against Ebola

practitioner-cart-lg-1An outbreak of the Ebola virus has stoked fears of a wider epidemic. Health official are scampering to find ways to contain and combat the virus.  Primary care, isolation measures and vaccination trials are just a few of the tools being employed to defeat the disease.  Telemedicine is emerging as one of the most important weapons in the fight against Ebola.

The threat posed by Ebola is doubly grave. Diagnosis, primary care and containment are necessary to stop the disease, but health providers in the field put themselves at great risk when treating infectious epidemics. Thankfully, telemedicine is also a terrific way of delivering care without exposing health providers to infectious diseases.  Here are just a few ways telemedicine is being used in the campaign against Ebola:

Acute Care: Recently, the Bio Containment Patient Care Unit at the Nebraska Medical Center incorporated telemedicine into its treatment of Dr Richard Sacra, a physician who contracted the Ebola virus while providing care in Liberia.  Dr. Sacra was isolated during his stay, but he was able to interact with his caregivers via video conference.  His treatment was successful and he has since been released from the hospital.  The Bio Containment unit in Nebraska is one of only four centers in the country that is equipped to handle cases like Dr. Sacra’s.

Mobile Medicine: Mobile devices are being enlisted in the fight against Ebola too.  A Singapore start-up, Health2i, has a developed a new app, Doctor Gratis, which connects mobile users with physicians.  The app includes information about Ebola and helps health consumers and patients interact with healthcare providers.  The app may be especially useful in the fight against infectious diseases, since it minimizes caregiver to patient contact, which can help spread disease.

Medical Collaboration: Peter Hulsroj, Director of the European Space Policy Institute, argues that telemedicine has a very important role to play in augmenting traditional medicine in the campaign against Ebola.  In his view, telemedicine can help the global medical community assist local caregivers on the frontlines.  Of course, where an outbreak like Ebola is concerned, there is no substitute for the medical personnel delivering care on the ground.  However, Hulsroj and others believe that telemedicine can be enlisted in specific ways to combat Ebola.  They include:

  • Early diagnosis.
  • Supervision of treatment regimens.
  • Peer-to-peer collaboration.
  • Evaluation of medical tests.
  • Training fieldworkers.
  • Real-time information sharing between caregivers in the field and experts from afar.

According to Dr. Dale Alverson, “Telemedicine is playing a bigger and bigger role in the healthcare of patients the world over, and the innovations of new technologies and models of healthcare are is central to the future of medicine.” Its role in combating Ebola is just one example of how this technology is changing the field of healthcare.  The Ebola virus recognizes no boundaries; therefore it is a threat to the global community.  Telemedicine is helping heath officials and providers from across to globe collaborate and pool their resources to contain and defeat Ebola.  Technology is not a panacea for outbreaks like Ebola, but it can certainly be an important part of the cure.

Resources:

  1. http://medcitynews.com/2014/09/nebraska-medical-center-uses-telemedicine-treat-ebola-virus-patient/
  2. http://www.techinasia.com/singapore-startup-fights-ebola-africa-telemedicine-app/
  3. http://www.espi.or.at/images/stories/dokumente/webnews2014/PH_Letter_to_FT.pdf
  4. http://www.healthitoutcomes.com/doc/vidyo-enables-mercy-patient-care-through-telehealth-services-0001
Bob Higginbotham

About Bob Higginbotham

Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at bobh@avidexav.com