Monthly Archives: January 2016

Ace Ventura: TeleVet???

I live on a real-life working farm. Oh no, not that kind of farm, it is a horse-farm.  It still keeps me busy stacking hay, feeding, cleaning stalls and taking care of the animals. I don’t need to buy an expensive John Deere to do my work!

I have had many encounters with vets over the years and I have also had many two hour trailer rides to take a horse to a specialist in the Twin Cities to take care of some critical issues. I have even lost a horse because we couldn’t get to the specialist in time just to find out that the local vet, if told what course of action could have been taken once the specialist saw him, could have saved our horse.

People are attached to pets, and that is what my horses are, big dogs that don’t live in thepolycom equipment horse house. They are part of the family and anything we can do to get them the help they need, we will do! See how getting to a specialist a lot soon than a two-hour drive is saving countless animals around the globe.

I have to admit that when the idea of writing this blog came up, the subject seemed somewhat silly to me, as maybe it does to you at first glance. Telemedicine for pets?  They can’t even talk on the phone!  Can you imagine Cesar Millan, “whispering” to a puppy with separation anxiety over a video call?  Now that would be some “must see TV!”

Upon a little reflection however, I quickly understood the advantages of utilizing telemedicine to mitigate the barriers of time and distance in efficiently administering veterinary care. There are a few key factors that when considered, make veterinary care the perfect candidate for improvement through video teleconferencing technology.

  1. Veterinarians are relatively scarce. It is easier to get into Medical School in the United States than it is to get into Veterinary School, just by the sheer fact that there are less Veterinary Schools nationwide. As such, veterinarians are relatively scarce. In fact, there are over 912,000 licensed physicians in the US while only 65,000 veterinarians in private practice (nearly 40% of veterinarians actually work in research). Telemedicine allows these scarce veterinary resources to be used more widely and efficiently.
  2.  Distance to specialists. It is widely agreed that rural populations benefit greatly from the advent of telemedicine, giving people needed access to physicians that may not be local and/or easy to get to otherwise. Imagine you own a horse ranch in a remote region of Wyoming. Given that there are only 3600 equine veterinarians in the US to begin with, what are the odds one is close to your ranch? However the odds are extremely high that one will be close to phone and internet service.
  3.  Rural population ratios. Here is something else to consider. In rural areas livestock and other animals may outnumber human populations by more than 50 to 1. All of a sudden telemedicine becomes even more important in making sure that these large populations of animals have access to an extremely small number of veterinarians.
  4.  Potential Impact. I am in no way minimizing the loss of a pet. I understand that companion animals carve out spaces deep within their owner’s hearts and that losing one can be a traumatic experience. I also know that the loss of a friend or relative has the potential to cut much deeper, so on the surface, telemedicine for veterinarians may seem less important than for doctors. However, if you think about the impact a cow with and infectious disease could have on the rest of the herd if not diagnosed and quarantined in a timely and appropriate manner, you quickly realize that there is a potentially huge positive impact telemedicine would have in these situations.
  5.  Easier Billing. Unfortunately, one hurdle to wider adoption telemedicine has faced in the past is the difficulty of assuring and securing payment for these services from the insurance carrier (imagine that!) In most cases however, veterinary care is not dependent on an insurance approval, as the care is paid for by the individual instead. Sure there are a select few that have veterinary insurance, but most are paying out of pocket with discretionary income.

So there you have it! Five reasons that telemedicine is an amazing fit for veterinary care, despite the fact that animals can’t talk on the phone. I can now definitely see the value of a future where portable tablets with cameras facilitate conversations between ranchers in the field and veterinarians located elsewhere.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: https://www.fsmb.org/Media/Default/PDF/Census/2014census.pdf

#2: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Statistics/Pages/Market-research-statistics-US-veterinarians.aspx

#3: http://www.gopetplan.com

#4: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20150912/MAGAZINE/309129971

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

Plane Ol’ Video Teleconferencing

I was out shoveling snow last winter and I heard ahelicopter thundering sound that I have never experienced before in the winter time…a massive helicopter flying low and fast right over the top of my roof and tree line heading into the St. Cloud area in Central Minnesota.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen Blackhawks, Chinooks and Apaches fly overhead on training runs from the Camp Ripley National Guard facility as they have been getting ready to deploy…but not in the winter time. And this red and white helicopter had the LifeLink III insignia on it.  Then this past year, I have heard and seen several of the low-flying thunder makers transporting patients from Wilmar to St. Cloud or Duluth as part of the new LifeLink program that is reaching rural areas during bad accidents or life-threatening situations. And when I met with the folks at LifeLink, they told me about their really cool helicopters and the gear they have on board.  I was impressed with what I saw…I hope they can get a few to a hospital near you

Get on an airplane run by a major airline today and although they will no longer provide you with a meal, they will provide you with WiFi that will allow you to utilize your connected devices to catch up on work, access important files, and even do a cloud based video-teleconference if you so choose. The airplane uses a satellite based system to assure its passengers can stay connected and efficiently and productively use their in-air time.  It’s a welcome luxury and convenience for most, and a better use of time than reading the SkyMall catalog for the 18th time.

Drive up on a major auto accident with critical injuries, and many times you’ll see an emergency helicopter land to facilitate transport to the nearest ER or trauma center. These airships are equipped as you would expect a first response transport to be. Heart monitors, blood pressure and blood oxygen monitors, IVs, defibrillators etc adorn the walls and fill the compartments, creating essentially a “flying ICU.” helicopter and paitentPlanes are also outfitted in this manner for patient transport, to assure all the essential equipment is in place to transfer patients from facility to facility. Now these aircraft have been around for some time, and have always been able to communicate with their destinations via radio communications.  However, with the advent of in-flight WiFi capabilities like the ones mentioned in commercial aircraft above, being able to connect to the internet goes beyond being a luxury and instead becomes a huge opportunity to increase the quality of care during critical transport.

WiFi can enable flying ICUs to access a patient’s important electronic health records (EHRs) to assess potential allergies, health history, or other factors that may best determine the care provided and increase the odds of success of administering potentially life-saving care. It can also provide the opportunity for a doctor at the receiving facility to video conference with the medics and EMTs on board to prepare properly for the patient’s arrival or to remotely assess the patient and provide additional in transit care instructions.

Now if you are envisioning transport within a major metropolitan area, you may be thinking that the patient will arrive within minutes anyway, so there may not even be enough time to isolate an ER physician and initiate a call of this type. However, think of rural areas where the facilities may be quite a distance from the actual incident.

According to Mark Monte, M.D., chief of trauma surgery at St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth, MN, “There’s some debate as to the value of having a helicopter system in New York City or Detroit or Chicago. But we cover a large expanse of open territory. So to have a helicopter which can go out and reach a great distance and bring a patient back is a great advantage.”  Based on this, Minneapolis based Life Link III services 9 hospitals from six helicopter bases located in small Minnesota communities.

As you can imagine, having remote, in-flight access to EHRs and ER physicians is also exponentially important in these situations as well.

So if your facility already has a comprehensive telemedicine system and strategy in place, you are ready to interface not only with patients at home but also with those in the air. If you have been slow to embrace telemedicine in efforts to provide greater physician access or as a strategy to reduce re-admissions, perhaps these new developments may inspire you to take the plunge, at least in the ER where the extra few minutes a physician has to assess and prepare for the arrival of a patient in critical condition, may just save lives.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/flying-icus-medical-helicopters-provide-advanced-care-rural-patients/2015-11-24

#2: http://flyingicu.com/

#3: http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/flying-icus-medical-helicopters-provide-advanced-care-rural-patients/2015-11-24

#4: http://blog.avidex.com/the-new-house-call-telehealth-is-bringing-the-doctor-back-home/

#5: http://blog.avidex.com/telemedicine-a-428-million-silver-bullet/

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

From Hospital to Hospitality- How Does Your Facility Rate?

patient connected to wiresYou awake from a dream and survey your surroundings. You continue to blink rapidly, as your eyes adjust to the light in the room, and you try to regain some idea of where you are.  You attempt to stand up but something restricts your movement.  You look down to realize that you are tied to a large box beside your bed.  As your thoughts finally start to come into focus, you realize where you are.  You are not actually tied down, but leads from your chest connect you to a heart monitor.  You pan left and right to find yourself in a stark sterile room.  You grasp a remote also tethered to the bed, and as you fumble for the button that will surely call a much needed nurse, a large square TV hanging in the corner flickers to life.  You pull the wires from your chest and disconnect the clamp you find on your finger as you sit up and ready yourself to go find someone to help.  Alarms sound as the resident staff rushes in, flips on the fluorescent lights, and secures you once again, before interrogating you about where you were going.  You were just going to get up and find a member of the staff, but now your little adventure has elicited a response reminiscent of a prison break.

From a reader’s perspective the example above may seem a little extreme, but from the patient’s perspective a hospital stay has in the past been akin to being held against your will in a foreign place.

Now of course the hospital didn’t design the experience this way to purposefully make their patients uncomfortable. The confinement resulted from the necessity to monitor the patient’s whereabouts and their vitals.  The room was designed for medical function and utilized the best technology comforts it could when it was built several years back.

Today however, many hospitals are taking advantage of new technology that results in better patient experiences and outcomes. Patients instead become guests, and many of these guests are free to move about not only their modern and updated guest rooms, but also to freely move around the greater facility as well.  The experience goes from hospitalization to something closer to a healthcare retreat.  So how are these facilities going from hospitals to hospitality?

They address two major factors: Freedom and Comfort.

 Freedom

There is a whole new world of technology that frees patients from the bondage of hospitalization. First, traditional wired leads connecting patients to medical monitoring equipment are now being replaced with wireless sensors that can relay vitals wirelessly back to the nurse’s stations for proper supervision of patients and their condition. Second, combined with patient tracking systems, these same sensors can be used to locate a patient at any given time in case they need to be taken for another procedure or the doctor needs to speak with them about their test results.

Comfort

People like what is familiar, and nothing is farther than home than a white on white box with a 10 year old CRT hanging in the corner playing bad syndicated reruns on a limited number of analog TV channels. The comforts of home go a long way to not only enhance the patient experience, but also to aid in the recovery of the patient as well. Creating guest rooms with a lighting system that can control not only the brightness but the color of the light can soften any sharp sterile edges.  42” flat panel TVs with the ability to connect personal devices and personalize entertainment and education content options are more reminiscent of the modern living room than yesterday’s hospital.

Depriving someone of their freedom and their comfort at the very time they have been deprived of their health, is a sure way to make them feel like a prisoner. In today’s world, cutting edge technology allows hospitals to monitor patients’ vitals and location without inhibiting their mobility and freedom, while providing all the comforts of home in the guest rooms as well.  They are delivering superior care that restores freedom, enhances comfort, and leads the way to providing better care that focuses on the patient first.

Want to know if your facility embracing technology to the fullest? Take our evaluation survey here.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-hospitals-feel-like-prisons-sometimes

#2: http://blog.avidex.com/deliver-better-care-be-more-sensor-tive/

#3: http://blog.avidex.com/beyond-tv-guest-entertainment-systems-in-healthcare/

#4: http://blog.avidex.com/how-healthy-is-your-technology-experience/

#5: http://blog.avidex.com/patient-tracking-systems-reducing-the-cost-of-healthcare-and-waiting-room-anxiety/

 

Dan Nathan

About Dan Nathan

Dan Nathan, President, TeleHealth Services. With more than 30 years of experience in the U.S. hospital market, Dan Nathan brings a unique blend of operations, sales, technical and marketing knowledge. In his current position, he contributes to Telerent’s corporate leadership team by overseeing the day-to-day operation and management of TeleHealth Services. Dan joined TeleHealth in June 1996 as VP of Operations. As the result of Mr. Nathan’s leadership, TeleHealth consistently outperformed earnings projections and the acquisition team’s initial expectations. In 1998, he was promoted to General Manager of TeleHealth, and led the company from $30 million in revenue (1998) to $84 million (2012), as well as growth in TeleHealth’s customer base to more than 35% of US hospitals. Prior to his employment with Telerent, Mr. Nathan spent thirteen years in both sales and operations with Wells National Services Corp. and Granada North America, Inc., both leading providers of healthcare patient entertainment, education, communication systems and related products and services. Mr. Nathan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Illinois. You can Email Dan at dan.nathan@telehealth.com

Deliver Better Care, Be More ‘Sensor’-tive.

A four year old is admitted to the hospital with a congenital heart condition. Traditionally,child in hospital ipad the hospital staff would connect him to a multitude of modern machinery to track blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and breathing rate.  Each of these systems would require wires that restrict the child’s movement and would be able to alert the staff if any of the systems drop below an acceptable baseline.  Today however, a few small wireless sensors are placed on the child’s chest to track all of these things.  Not only are there no wires, but the sensors work together to identify relationships and trends across this bio data, creating a predictive analysis of any potential deterioration in the child’s condition before any single reading drops to a dangerous level.

If this sounds improbable, it’s not. It’s actually being done in the UK at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital where 4 year old Maci was the first child to utilize the program.

It’s all an extension of the Internet of Things (IoT), but instead of allowing someone to control their lights from their iPhone, it is potentially saving lives and creating better patient outcomes in healthcare.

The implications of wireless connected sensors in a hospital environment are huge. They can communicate with each other, with hospital staff, and even with patient tracking systems as well. They allow patients to remain connected to vital monitoring equipment while moving through different departments and tests without having to be continually disconnected and reconnected at each stop.  In short they increase staff efficiency and promote better patient outcomes. Now imagine the impact these same types of sensors have on remote healthcare services like telemedicine.

With the advent of sensor technologies, telemedicine goes way beyond a video conference with your doctor. There are a variety of sensors currently on the market and even more on the way, that all work to better assist healthcare providers with gathering important biometric data remotely.  Some states like Texas are starting to put regulations in place that require a doctor to have either a previous in-person relationship with a patient and/or a way to perform a similar medical evaluation a patient would get in the office before prescribing care.

They argue, “How can a physician make an accurate diagnosis when they have no objective diagnostic data? All they have is what the patient has told them.” But sensors are turning that argument on its head by providing real objective data, the same data collected in an in-person exam.

Imagine how telemedicine can be enhanced by sensors like:

  • Wireless, needle-free, glucose monitors for diabetes
  • Shoe insoles that track amputees’ gait for prosthetic evaluations
  • Stick sensors that monitor hydration levels
  • Wearable and ingestible sensors that track ingestions and physiologic data
  • Sensors that collect ECG and pulse oximetry data
  • A connected asthma inhaler tracking dosage, frequency and location of use
  • A breast cancer detection sensor tracking cell temperatures over time
  • A sensor that can be placed on the forehead for 10 seconds to get heart rate, blood oxygen levels, temperature, and blood pressure with 99% accuracy.

The small sample of the sensors above are either on the market or in development today. It’s obvious the benefit this type of technology provides to remote health monitoring, especially to telemedicine.

With access to electronic health records and sensor data, a doctor can sit across from a patient virtually through an HD teleconference and make real-time diagnoses and care recommendations based on health history and current biometric data. Fitbit eat your heart out.

To the casual observer, all this data collection is happening invisibly. No longer does a patient have to wear large recording devices or battery packs.  Sensors are now wearable, embeddable, and ingestible. They utilize new printing techniques and materials to make them comfortable, with some even deeming the resulting sensors as eSkin. Data flows to secure phones or mobile devices or to HIPPA compliant cloud based systems in a “store and forward” fashion for later access and review.

Given the state of sensor technology in healthcare, it’s time to get connected to your patients in new and exciting ways, whether they are inside your facility or at home. The IoT just got very interesting didn’t it?

For more than 20 years Avidex AV has provided innovative technologies that drive business outcomes for our clients. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: http://www.mhealthnews.com/press-release/isansys-wearable-technology-and-wireless-patient-monitoring-platform-scale-deployment-

#2: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/06/02/408513139/texas-put-brakes-on-telemedicine-and-teladoc-cries-foul

#3: http://www.mhealthnews.com/content/infographic-are-you-ready-sensors-healthcare

#4: http://www.vivalnk.com/eskin

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