Tag Archives: telemedicine

The ED Epidemic (and what to do about it)

polycom photo vid conNationwide, the epidemic of Emergency Departments (Emergency Rooms) being used as “primary care” by patients who don’t necessarily require emergency care has been on the increase for years. Although it varies from state to state, there are a number of variables that contribute to these occurrences. However, in all cases, an over-crowded ED can translate into ED physicians becoming a more limited resource. It goes without saying that any patient seeking care for a non-emergent event potentially procures the physicians’ time away from patients with potentially life threatening conditions.

Estimates vary in regards to the percentages of ED patients who actually need emergent care, with some rates as low as 30%. The trend isn’t decreasing any time soon. In fact, healthcare systems such as Scripps Health Network (San Diego) have seen up to a 160% increase in the number of emergency room visits for non-emergent care in a single year.

Something must be done–and soon–because what’s happening in California ERs is a public health crisis, and it’s happening now.” – Chris Van Gorder, CEO, Scripps Health

Van Gorder suggests that telemedicine can play a key role in reducing ED overcrowding by encouraging preventative care for the elderly. In some areas, elderly populations may not seek preventative care due to access limitations and/or logistical issues involved in seeing a physician. A recent study supports his theory.

“A three-and-a-half year study concludes that the use of “high-intensity” telemedicine at senior-living communities significantly reduces visits to emergency departments (ED).

Acute illness among senior-living community residents often leads to emergency department visits,” said Dr. Manish Shah, vice chair of research in the department of emergency medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. “We found that these virtual doctors’ visits reduced the rate of emergency department use by 18 percent over the course of a year.” 

Technology can certainly play a key role in the resolution of “ED overcrowding” by not only being used as a preventative measure, but also if it utilized at the point of care during the triage process.

New York Presbyterian’s Health System is an 11-facility network and is now utilizing a telemedicine platform called NYP OnDemand. Early returns indicate that this platform is dramatically reducing patient wait-times for patients with non-life threatening and non-emergent conditions.  The process is fairly straight-forward. Patients checking into the ED for non-emergent or non-life threatening conditions have the opportunity to go into a designated room and speak to a physician via a telemedicine application.  The physician is housed in another room within the facility, but has the ability to serve multiple telemedicine exam rooms. This application also allows for these physicians to serve and triage urgent care patients in remote locations (home, etc.).  Each visit (telemedicine exam) is approximately 30 minutes (depending upon the patient’s condition) and helps reduce the number of non-emergent patients in the ED.  This not only assists with staffing efficiency, but also helps ED physicians focus more effectively on the higher acuity patients.

“It’s all about delivering care more efficiently”, said Daniel Barchi, the system’s chief information officer. “If we can create an environment where a virtual visit allows that doctor to see many patients in a really efficient model, that’s the ultimate goal,” he said.

Thus, telemedicine technology applications play a key role in facilitating greater access to preventative care and more efficient treatment of non-life threatening conditions in ED and urgent care settings.

“I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription, is more telemedicine.”

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.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/emergency-rooms-facing-public-health-crisis.html

#2: http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/healthcare/4-ways-to-reduce-non-emergency-er-use

#3: http://www.med.wisc.edu/news-events/telemedicine-reduces-ed-visits-among-senior-living-community-residents/46498

#4: http://www.pressreader.com/usa/modern-healthcare/20170320/281724089366113

 

Carey Cox

About Carey Cox

Carey Cox has spent his 17 year career in various roles within the health care industry including sales, consulting, and operations management. Carey has been involved in a number of capital system sales roles including life safety, infant security, audio-visual, and clinical education. He had operational oversight of two Baylor pain management centers and served on various committees for Baylor Health Care System in Dallas. His internal knowledge of health care operations, his leadership experience and his ability to build and strengthen relationships give him a unique insight into clinical workflow and process throughput. Carey holds a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration and also volunteers in a mentoring program for young adults entering into the workforce. During his tenure at TeleHealth Services, he has been instrumental in expanding the TeleHealth footprint in Dallas-Ft Worth (Methodist Health System) and Houston (CHI St. Luke’s Health and Memorial Hermann) health care markets.

The Advantages of Telepsychiatry

Video ConferencingIf you are a technology manager in a healthcare facility, one organization that should be on your radar is the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), whose stated mission is to help “transform healthcare by improving the quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world.”

In addition to being a member community for sharing best practices, track local and state legislation as it pertains to healthcare and technology, and be connected to vendors and providers, the ATA also sponsors an annual conference each year.  At this year’s ATA conference, several companies were recognized for their thought leadership within the health care technology industry.  As a partner in the healthcare technology industry ourselves, we focus special attention to the awards given to thought leaders and pioneers in the field along with analyzing comparable trends to those that we see everyday as we assist our clients in implementing new technology.

Last year, our article concerning connected sensors and asthma was based upon the ATA award given to Propeller Health.

This year, our attention was focused on the Industry Leader Award that went to Geoffrey Boyce, Executive Director of InSight Telepsychiatry.

This award came as no surprise as the benefits of telemedicine, especially in connecting patients to specialists who may be more difficult to access, is a common problem in many areas of the country.  However, as sometimes happens in the life-business matrix, this award sparked some relevance based on a story I had read recently while doing research for another blog on the epidemic of overcrowding in the ER.

Chris Van Gorder is president and CEO of San Diego-based Scripps Health, a nonprofit integrated health system in California.  He recently gave his thoughts on the causes of overcrowding in the ER.  One of his main concerns was the influx of patients with behavioral health issues.

“Compounding the problem is the impact on emergency rooms by patients who also have behavioral health conditions — an increasing share of all ER visits. Acute care hospitals are woefully underfunded to pay for the psychiatrists or facilities these patients require. Yet every day, they come to us for help or are brought in by law enforcement because there is nowhere appropriate to take them. And they stay in the ER too long for that same reason.”

He goes on to expound that the problem goes beyond his experiences in California.

“Throughout this nation, emergency rooms are being misused, they are overcrowded, they’re boarding behavioral health patients while searching for someplace willing to take them, and there’s a lack of funding and focus needed for behavioral health issues both inside and outside the hospital.”

Those comments resonated with me when I originally read that piece, and when I saw Mr. Boyce recognized for his leadership at InSight, everything came together.

Thus, given this context, InSight Telepsychiatry has developed a program that specifically addresses hospital-based telepsychiatry with the stated benefits of lowering inappropriate admissions, reducing length of stays and improving emergency department throughput.

The first step in providing this health care service is setting up an exam room at the healthcare facility, (as well as at the practitioner’s preferred remote location), to perform these visits via a video teleconferencing. InSight then provides access to psychiatry practitioners that perform remote evaluations, prescribe medications, and set follow up appointments.  And all the while, this “patient assessment” function reduces the hospital’s risk and liability while also providing all required documentation back to the ER to be incorporated into the patient’s medical record.

If this is a need your health care facility could improve upon, look into InSight and what services they offer. Avidex can then assist your team in setting up the proper technology to maximize their services.

 

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.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/emergency-rooms-facing-public-health-crisis.html

#2: http://blog.avidex.com/innovation-at-ata-2016/

#3: https://thesource.americantelemed.org/blogs/jessica-washington/2017/04/26/industry-leaders-recognized-at-ata-2017-telehealth-20

#4: http://insighttelepsychiatry.com/

#5: http://insighttelepsychiatry.com/hospital-based-services/

 

 

 

Carey Cox

About Carey Cox

Carey Cox has spent his 17 year career in various roles within the health care industry including sales, consulting, and operations management. Carey has been involved in a number of capital system sales roles including life safety, infant security, audio-visual, and clinical education. He had operational oversight of two Baylor pain management centers and served on various committees for Baylor Health Care System in Dallas. His internal knowledge of health care operations, his leadership experience and his ability to build and strengthen relationships give him a unique insight into clinical workflow and process throughput. Carey holds a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration and also volunteers in a mentoring program for young adults entering into the workforce. During his tenure at TeleHealth Services, he has been instrumental in expanding the TeleHealth footprint in Dallas-Ft Worth (Methodist Health System) and Houston (CHI St. Luke’s Health and Memorial Hermann) health care markets.

Will Obamacare be Trump’d? (and does it really matter?)

On the 20th of January, a new president took office. Barack Obama graciously exited the White House handing the keys to the inbound Donald J. Trump. President Trump was a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, (ACA), and had promised to reverse it once in office. 20558323 - close up of male doctor holding tablet pc with medical appWhat ultimately happens to President Obama’s signature piece of legislation is yet to be seen. It may be revamped or it may be scrapped altogether, but when it comes to technology adoption in healthcare, does it really matter?

To answer that question we need to look at a few other pieces of legislation as well as general trends in healthcare.

The first piece of legislation that is important is the Tele-Med Act of 2015. We detailed the implications of this bill in another post about a year ago.

In general, The Tele-Med Act of 2015 may just lower existing barriers to implementing telemedicine services, especially across state lines. Now, as it is a federal bill, it really only applies to Medicare currently, but it would set a precedent for other private insurance companies to follow and open up the boundaries that may currently prohibit them from offering services in neighboring states.”

Now that piece of legislation seems to be taking it’s time getting through committees, but there is one other important thing about the bill you should know. It was introduced by a Republican and there are 27 cosponsors of that bill with equal “D”s and “R”s following their names.

The second piece of legislation that may lend some insight into what the future role of technology in healthcare may be is the ECHO Act. ECHO stand for Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes. This act became law on December 14th 2016, and it applies to examining how the use and integration of technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models can impact better health outcomes. It would pave the way for technology like video teleconferencing and distance learning to be used to actually facilitate knowledge and resource sharing between healthcare facilities to better train staff and make more efficient use of limited resources and specialists. This bill also had bipartisan support when introduced.

Despite whatever political rhetoric and posturing seems to be going on, one thing seems clear. Both sides of the aisle agree that telehealth will be a large part of the solution to our healthcare problems. It will decrease costs, increase efficiency, and create access for those that may be in underserved or rural locales where the quality of care is not currently up to par.

Even if the ACA is scrapped, the trends towards using technology to allow healthcare professionals to share information more effectively and to connect doctor’s to patients for after care, follow up visits, counseling, etc will still continue due to bipartisan bills and laws that were passed apart from the ACA. The ACA does not impact the need for us to use technology to allow patients to self-manage their own care to drive the desired outcomes. However, creating solutions that are truly engaging for patients/families will have the highest impact on reducing costs.

One idea of reform needed to make plans more affordable is that of breaking down the invisible lines between the states when it comes to providing and billing for care. It would seem that telehealth would have a strong role in this scenario if implemented as well as a way to bridge the geographic gaps.

At the end of the day, an objective look at the types of healthcare bills that are being introduced and passed, illustrate that both sides of the aisle see technology as a way to make healthcare more affordable and to create better patient outcomes. Despite what reform or repeal happens with the ACA, it doesn’t seem like the new House, Senate, or President will “trump” that trend.

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://blog.avidex.com/are-you-ready-the-tele-med-act-of-2015/

#2: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/3081/cosponsors

#3: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2873/cosponsors

#4: http://www.healthcare-informatics.com/news-item/telemedicine/senate-passes-bill-use-project-echo-nationwide-telehealth-model

Anthony Paoletti

About Anthony Paoletti

Anthony brings over 23 years of audiovisual experience and has worn nearly every "hat" in the industry; from Consultant to End User; Account Representative to Install Technician; Project Manager to Systems Engineer. Contact Anthony at apaoletti@avidexav.com

Innovation at ATA 2016

As a health care professional, if you were in Minneapolis, Minnesota from May 14th to 17th this year, you were most likely at the American Telemedicine Association’s annual conference, ATA 2016.WebRTC If you were not there or if this event has not historically been on your radar… it should be!

The ATA’s annual conference is the world’s largest and most comprehensive meeting focused on telemedicine, digital, connected and mobile health” and “the premier forum for healthcare professionals and entrepreneurs in the telemedicine, telehealth and mHealth space.”

It is a place where physicians, healthcare providers, and healthcare entrepreneurs and innovators all come together to share case studies, explore new ways to deliver care, and showcase groundbreaking new technology.

With so many talented people all in one place, it seems appropriate that each year several are recognized with ATA President’s awards for their achievements and contributions. This year, at ATA 2016, the President’s Award for Innovation in Remote Healthcare went to a company called Propeller Health.

Propeller Health uses connected sensor technology in combination with a mobile app to help patients manage asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder). In short, their sensor attaches to the patient’s inhaler, recording dosages, when they are taken, and utilizing the capabilities of the patient’s mobile device to combine this data with things like weather conditions and geographic location. This not only help patients manage the timing of their medication, but also to proactively prescribe preventative action to avoid episodes based on local conditions that have historically triggered their personal symptoms.

Propeller has a great video on their homepage as well as a “How It Works” page if you’d like to see their explanation of the technology.

Now on its own this is a great piece of technology worthy of the award it was given. It makes a dramatic difference in the daily lives of those suffering from asthma and COPD. Their studies show that using Propeller results in up to 79% fewer asthma attacks, 50% more symptom free days, and 50% more doses of medication taken on schedule. That is a huge jump in the quality of life for those using the technology. As a stand-alone, personal health management system it has huge value. However, as with most things, there is a bigger picture and potentially larger benefit when combined with other technologies and communicating the data to the patient’s physician.

Propeller, when combined with fitness tracking applications, could also correlate asthma and COPD data with heart rate and blood oxygen levels. It could create a secure transmission of data to a secure file in the patient’s Electronic Health Records so that any relevant events can be assessed by the patient’s physician during scheduled check-ups. It would also allow for alerts to be generated to alert the healthcare provider if events are becoming more frequent or more severe to proactively assess the current treatment plan and adjust it if necessary.

Propeller is a prime example as to how the Internet of Healthcare and all of its connected sensors can be leveraged to deliver better quality of care and reduce unnecessary visits to the doctor’s office which promotes efficiency and greatly reduces costs as well.

Congratulations to Propeller Health for their President’s Award this year at ATA 2016. If you didn’t make it to the show this year, maybe we can connect there in 2017 to explore the floor together!

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://hub.americantelemed.org/ata2016new/about/aboutata2016

#2: http://hub.americantelemed.org/ata2016new/events/event-description?CalendarEventKey=5401bbe1-60af-4911-98a0-1654b9c11688&CommunityKey=cee2dcb7-7be2-4d04-9090-40ec1e264035

#3: https://www.propellerhealth.com/

#4: https://www.propellerhealth.com/how-it-works/

#5: http://blog.avidex.com/next-stop-the-ioh-will-there-be-an-internet-of-healthcare/

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

Jeff Miller

About Jeff Miller

Jeff has been working in the professional AV integration industry for over twenty years. During that time he has served as Designer, Project Manager and/or Account Executive for hundreds of projects. As an Account Executive at Avidex, he specializes in Medical, Education, and Control Rooms. He can be reached at jmiller@avidex.com

Calling in Sick

When you think of a school nurse, you may imagine a cheery, young health professional whose day consists of waiting for the random child to come into the nurse’s office nee6539946 - smiling nurse sitting and working at her computerding their temperature taken, maybe aspirin for a headache, or a skinned knee from the playground cleaned and bandaged. Perhaps if the child is deemed sick and potentially contagious, the nurse may call the child’s parent(s) to come and pick them up from school. The stakes in these instances seem relatively low, so it is no wonder that when faced with budget cuts, schools look at the full time registered nurse as an unnecessary expense. They may instead train someone in the office on basic triage and transfer the responsibility for minor ailments to teachers as well.

But are the savings worth the true cost?

The truth is, the role of the school nurse has changed dramatically over time. According to a recent cost-benefit study of school nursing services,

“During the past few decades, several major changes in our society have greatly increased the demand for school nursing services, including a rise in the number of students with chronic health conditions and mental health problems, an increase in the number of students with special care needs, and improved medical technology. As a result, school nursing services have expanded greatly from their original focus of reducing communicable disease–related absenteeism to providing episodic care, managing chronic health conditions, caring for students with disabilities, promoting health behaviors, enrolling children in health insurance and connecting them with health care providers, tracking communicable diseases, and handling medical emergencies.”

Given this, if today’s educational environment and student needs require access to a nurse’s presence at school and the financial state of the school or district cannot support a full-time nurse, what is a responsible school to do?

Today 45% of schools in the US have a full-time nurse, yet only 25% have no nurse at all. So what are the other 30% of schools doing? They either have a part-time nurse or they share a nurse between multiple schools or campuses.

Sharing a nurse across multiple schools can be challenging. In districts where the schools may be close geographically, there is time spent traveling back and forth and given Murphy’s law, I could almost guarantee that in emergency situations, the nurse is most likely at the wrong campus when the event occurs.

In more remote or rural areas, where the district may be a whole county or multiple counties, travel between campuses on a day to day basis may be physically impossible. In these situations, if the school cannot afford dedicated nurses, they either opt out of having a nurse altogether or parents just have to hope their child only needs a nurse at school on Tuesday.

So whether you are a school that currently shares a nurse looking for more efficiency, a school that has opted out of a nurse altogether because there are not sufficient funds and sharing is nearly impossible, or even one of the 45% of schools that currently has a full-time nurse but may be forced by budgetary cuts to reconsider that cost, there is something you should be looking at… telemedicine.

Telemedicine can greatly increase the efficiency of sharing a nurse between schools by eliminating the need for travel between locations. In districts with schools that are close together, this eliminates the time and expense of traveling constantly between locations. In places where schools are far apart, this may mean access to a nurse where none was ever available before.

Telemedicine allows schools to make a small one time investment in video teleconferencing technology like high definition cameras and video monitors to facilitate real time, face to face conversations between students and nursing professionals. Enhanced systems could also utilize relatively inexpensive biometric hardware like heart rate and temperature sensors allowing nurses to collect current vitals from the students that they are looking at and talking to, greatly increasing the quality of care prescribed.

The ability to record and store these nurse-student encounters also provides the district a record of mental health counseling and medical treatments. When combined with access to the students’ Electronic Health Records (EHRs), this also helps mitigate any liability the school or district may have in providing these healthcare services to students.

Telemedicine in the school nurse’s office may just be the way to help schools with full-time nurses reduce costs without sacrificing the health of their students, a path to increased efficiency and better quality of care in schools that share nurses, and a way for those who could never afford a nurse to get access to one. Given that the health of our children is at stake, it’s definitely an investment worth making.

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://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1872779

#2: http://www.nasn.org/Research/CostBenefitAnalysis

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 You Should Medicare about Alternative Payment Models

Early in my career, around 1995-96, I was selected by Vice President Al Gore to sit on a senatorial/congressional Sub-Committee to talk about reimbursement for “video teleconferencing for medicine.” I remember Senator John D. “Jay” Rockefeller, IV, the chair, telling us all in the first meeting that “one day, this will be the biggest thing in medicine.” After putting the first “payment plan”11280389_s legislation in motion for telemedicine, we are all still waiting for his statement to come true! Today, at last, we are a few steps closer to his famous statement…

“Simplicity is the soul of efficiency.” –Austin Freeman

If this quote is true, and I believe it is, it is not surprising that telemedicine had a slow start when it was introduced to health care. The technology itself has never been overly complicated, however navigating the ever winding web of HIPPA compliance and the insurance systems payment models stifled any growth that telemedicine was poised to show early on.

As of late, that has all started to change. Many technologies now actively address patient privacy, encryption, and secure data storage that mitigate any potential threats to the security of patient’s medical information. Many states are also now passing legislation to make sure that telemedicine services are paid by insurance companies just like in person visits would be. And the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, (CMS), have put quotas into place for services that need to be billed using Alternative Payment Models (APM).

What is an APM exactly and what is the purpose of promoting them?

“All alternative payment models (APM) and payment reforms that seek to deliver better care at lower cost share a common pathway for success: providers, payers, and others in the health care system must make fundamental changes in their day-to-day operations that improve quality and reduce the cost of health care.” –CMS

The take away here is that better care at a lower cost requires “fundamental changes” in the way healthcare providers run their operations. And as we all know, change is never easy. There must be some promise of reward to drive it forward, which is why APMs are so important. They provide the pathway for change by providing stronger incentives to do so.

Telemedicine services fall squarely in the wheelhouse of APMs as they promote physician efficiency, improve access to and potential quality of care, and can be provided for a fraction of the cost of face to face visits. It is for these reasons that CMS is aiming to grow payment of services paid through APMs to 30% of all services by the end of this year (2016) and to 50% of all services by 2018. The 2018 goal also links 90% of all payments through all payment models to quality of care, not just a fee for a service.

No longer will patients be paying for “time” in front of a medical professional, but their care and the payment of it will be more directly linked to the value of the service provided. Providers will be incentivized for providing the best quality of care in the most efficient manner possible or they may not be paid at all.

The question then is not whether or not healthcare practices and facilities will be substantially affected by APMs, but rather if they are ready to provide services like telemedicine that fit the bill. With the amazing advantages in technology like those in Web RTC and several technology grant programs being offered today, there really are very few reasons that forward thinking healthcare organizations shouldn’t be ramping up their telemedicine services ASAP.

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.cms.gov/

#2: https://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/Health-Care-Payment-Learning-and-Action-Network/

#3: http://blog.avidex.com/breaking-through-the-telemedicine-payment-barrier/

#4: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2015-Fact-sheets-items/2015-01-26-3.html

#5: http://blog.avidex.com/just-browsing-webrtc-for-healthcare/

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: Putting Inmate Healthcare Costs on Lockdown.

Read any of the headlines on America’s prison system today and you will find a common theme. It’s expensive to maintain. Incarcerating people is often necessary to protect society, but it does 19606432_scome at a steep financial cost. We all know the system is expensive, but I doubt many of us know exactly where the money goes. You may be surprised to know that up to 30% of the cost is related to providing healthcare to inmates.

“Typically 9 to 30 percent of corrections costs go to inmate health care. This amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars nationally…” -The Urban Institute

One of the reasons that care is so expensive is that in the United States, we treat our prisoners rather well, and as such, are required to provide them with medical care comparable to that which they would receive if they were not incarcerated. Most times this means transporting them off site to receive healthcare evaluations and services, and providing transportation to and these appointments can really add up.

“In Washington, D.C., for example, inmate medical services in its jail cost about $33 million in 2012, a quarter of its corrections budget. This does not include the cost of sending corrections officers to guard prisoners who receive medical treatment outside the jail.” -The Urban Institute

The cost of sending corrections officers to guard inmates at these appointments should not be minimized or overlooked.

“The cost of guarding inmates transported to medical care outside of prison is approximately $2,000 per inmate per 24 hours. Even for part of a day, the costs associated with transporting an inmate to care can be substantial.” –The Urban Institute

The system is not only very inefficient but it also potentially puts the public safety at risk by removing prisoners from the facilities designed to contain them and instead putting them on the road with armed guards where an escape attempt may be more likely.

So how do we responsibly decrease the cost of care and reduce travel to and from off-site healthcare facilities while still providing humane and comparable care to those in prison?

It seems that Telemedicine may in fact be the answer.

According to The Urban Institute’s report on this subject, “Telemedicine also can reduce costs where demand for a medical specialty does not justify specialized doctors to be available on regular schedules inside the jail. It is especially useful for some specialties, such as radiology, dermatology, and psychiatry.”

Telemedicine creates great efficiencies in providing care that reduce costs anywhere from $200-$1000 per inmate. Not only does cost of care go down, but the quality of care potentially increases, as “telemedicine expands the pool of medical specialists who can be used, as some doctors may be reluctant to practice in a correctional setting.” Better care for less? That sounds like an upside for both the correctional facility and the inmate.

So if your correctional facility would like to save money on providing care and time on transporting inmates to medical appointments all the while increasing public safety and the quality of care, you should be exploring implementing a telemedicine system at your facility. The start-up costs are mainly related to purchasing the appropriate audio video hardware, so from a technology cost perspective, the hurdles are lower than they have ever been and a great technology partner is never more than a phone call away.

Do you want to put your healthcare costs on lockdown? Telemedicine is the answer.

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.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/412754-Opportunities-for-Cost-Savings-in-Corrections-Without-Sacrificing-Service-Quality-Inmate-Health-Care.PDF

#2: http://blog.avidex.com/choosing-the-right-av-partner-for-healthcare-facility-design/

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

It’s Good to be an Organ “Droner”

50877847_sDrones are everywhere. Applications range from military use for fighting terrorists to aerial photography to recreational use by hobbyists and even Amazon has announced it would like to start using them for package delivery. Imagine being able to deliver packages in dense urban areas without having to worry about traffic or parking. Now imagine that instead of delivering your nephew’s birthday present, the drone is delivering something much more critical…medical care.

Before you scoff at the idea, let me share a quick scenario.

Imagine your 21 year old daughter is in desperate need of a heart transplant. You wring your hands, hoping that somehow a heart will become available in time to save her life. 8 miles away, a 27 year old dies in a car crash. It’s both a tragedy and a miracle as he is an organ donor and his heart is a match. Your heart soars until you remember that the route from the crash to the hospital, that seemingly short 8 miles, takes 2 hours to traverse at this time of day in Chennai, India. It will take another miracle for police to clear the road to get the heart there in time.

This is a true story, and luckily, the second miracle also occurred. A whole team of police had to clear the route for the heart to arrive and they amazingly got it to the hospital in 13 minutes and saved the young girls life. But when minutes are the difference between life and death, should we have to take that chance? Metropolitan areas in New York City and Los Angeles have equally horrific traffic problems. Even dispatching a helicopter may present some delays in getting flight clearances and in finding a suitable landing location. Not only that, helicopters are a limited resource that may not be readily available for organ transportation. So isn’t there a better way?

Some students in Spain thought there was, and they developed a purpose built drone with a refrigerated storage compartment specifically for the purpose of transporting organs quickly and efficiently from one location to another. They are currently running a test program in India, and if successful, there is no reason that the same programs couldn’t be implemented in the US as well.

Drones in healthcare may not be so far-fetched after all.

Now think of extended applications. What about a drone that delivers medical care to those trapped in a mine? Or drone that uses a video teleconferencing system to respond to an accident and give bystanders instructions on what to do until the paramedics arrive? Or a drone that includes a defibrillator for a heart attack victim? (Here’s a great video on that idea as well.) The scenarios abound.

Then consider that the size and cost of the drones mean that a large network of them could be deployed. Imagine a series of roadside pedestal “garages” with drones at the ready every few miles, able to be dispatched to accidents and assess injury severity for positioning more scarce EMT and Paramedic resources. Now that may be very valuable indeed.

All too often we see technology positioned in films and pop culture as being a potential threat to the human race. However, in today’s world it seems technology is once again in the service of saving lives instead. After all, it’s good to be an organ “droner”.

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.newsweek.com/2016/02/05/india-organ-transplant-drones-419013.html

#2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-rEI4bezWc

#3: http://www.tudelft.nl/en/current/latest-news/article/detail/ambulance-drone-tu-delft-vergroot-overlevingskans-bij-hartstilstand-drastisch/

Anthony Paoletti

About Anthony Paoletti

Anthony brings over 23 years of audiovisual experience and has worn nearly every "hat" in the industry; from Consultant to End User; Account Representative to Install Technician; Project Manager to Systems Engineer. Contact Anthony at apaoletti@avidexav.com

Up with Telemedicine. Down with Healthcare Costs.

I hate paying too much for anything. Just ask my family and friends. When I need gas, I will drive out of my way to save three cents and use my rewards card to get three Telemedicinemore, saving a total of six cents on every gallon. My vehicle holds 16 gallons, so I saved less than a buck, 96 cents, searching for a cheaper place to buy gas.

When somebody asks me why, my instinct is to say “because I saved money!” But in reality, did the extra driving really save me anything?  Is going to the first place that has gas, paying a buck more, really that bad? To me it is, and that is why I do it. It makes me feel better.

In the health care world, we compare prices, talk about deductions, worry about our out of pocket…when in reality, we just really need to go see the doctor because we are not feeling good and have a need. We just need to go to make us feel better!

We rely on the government and insurance companies to keep the cost down…any way possible. So then why don’t they allow telemedicine to be paid when we want to use it? Why can’t I feel better at my place of employment, my home, a retail center? Why do I have to go see my doctor as HIS place, and not at mine?  We know that studies show that using telemedicine drives the cost of service down, but why won’t EVERY company provide coverage for it?

The debate has gone on long enough…time to man up and do what is right and cover the service. At least that is my feeling, because it makes me feel better. Sorry, low on gas, got to see who has the best price today and fill it up!

If there is one thing that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has shown us, it is that despite driving down costs of care, insurance premiums have continued to rise. It seems that just leveraging buying power by adding new consumers into the market place has not made a positive impact at the actual patient level when it comes to costs. The average total family healthcare premium has risen to about 23% of median income in employer provided plans. Even in the analysis of a handpicked plan on the insurance exchange, an example you could argue shows the best possible scenario, healthcare costs have essentially failed to decrease nationwide.

Considering that the tax penalty for NOT having healthcare is only 2.5% of income and that an individual can now buy insurance AFTER an event requiring treatment it is not surprising that many are threatening not to buy healthcare until it is needed. That would create a downward spiral, where less people paying in means costs continue to rise. Combine that with the fact that millions of people are being added into the existing medical system. Doctors’ time now becomes a rare commodity, and the perfect storm for ever-rising healthcare costs is definitely brewing. That is unless we deliver care more effectively in a way that costs less and creates efficiencies in how we use our doctors’ time.

Telemedicine drives down the cost of delivering care. It’s not in dispute. Whether you are a patient seeking a remote consultation, a provider needing access to resources from another provider like a specialist to read an MRI, or a hospital looking to reduce readmissions and potential fines, telemedicine is the answer. Studies show reduction of costs in all these areas and more.

Traditional concerns about the potential reimbursement of telemedicine and the privacy and quality of care delivered of remote services are quickly fading into the background. Legislation has and is continuing to assure that telemedicine will be covered by insurance plans and that healthcare facilities. Technology hardware and software providers as well as web-based communication platforms are delivering HIPPA compliant encryption to assure the privacy of patient information. Remote sensors of the wearable, implantable, and even ingestible variety are enabling physicians to gather, store and analyze biometric information to deliver state of the art care.

The environment for rapid adoption of telemedicine has never been better, especially given that most Americans are now comfortable with receiving care this way. People talk to their grandchildren, support highly technical products, and conduct multi-million dollar deals over video teleconferencing today. Why wouldn’t they conduct their routine healthcare visits in the same manner? The answer is that they would, they just need to be paired up with providers embracing the technology. Given that, a small investment in today’s technology is the perfect way to not only find new patients, but also to help drive down the cost of care long term, which helps everyone.

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.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/12/09/workers-are-spending-more-of-their-income-on-employer-health-insurance

#2: http://kff.org/health-reform/fact-sheet/analysis-of-2016-premium-changes-in-the-affordable-care-acts-health-insurance-marketplaces/

#3: http://www.americantelemed.org/docs/default-source/policy/examples-of-research-outcomes—telemedicine’s-impact-on-healthcare-cost-and-quality.pdf

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

#5: http://blog.avidex.com/the-telephone-bill-you-actually-want/

#6: http://blog.avidex.com/just-browsing-webrtc-for-healthcare/

#7: http://blog.avidex.com/what-is-it-and-why-is-it-good-for-healthcare/

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: It’s Rocket Science.

Two things I want to get out there today: First, I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid (come on, so did you); Second, I use the phrase “it’s not Rocket Science” all the time.astronaut on laptop

But, working in the world of telemedicine, I am working in rocket science, as NASA was one of the first organizations to create “links” from their rockets and space shuttles to their mission control in Houston. They developed many of the technologies used in current day telemedicine many years ago…and they are still helping to generate new ideas in this market sector today. Read on to learn more.

As for the astronaut thing, after a few rides on the “whirly bird” at the state fair, you will know why I will never go into space! I like the ground, the stationary feel underneath my feet, way too much!

Imagine you are in a rural area and fall ill. You are just over 200 miles away from the nearest doctor. What do you do? You could drive if you felt well enough, or if it was an emergency you may call 911 for an ambulance or a helicopter to rush you to the hospital.  Now imagine that those 200 miles between you and the doctor are straight down, because you are an astronaut in low earth orbit.

This is the position NASA found themselves in back in the 1960’s at the dawn of manned space flight. In fact, before they sent people into space, they had to develop a way to send biometric data back from animals in orbit to assess how their circulatory and respiratory systems would work without gravity.  This technology was later put to use to monitor the astronauts themselves while in orbit.

Fast forward to 2035, the year in which Matt Damon’s character Mark Watney is stranded on Mars in the new film The Martian. Even though it’s a fictional account, the ability to communicate data like the biometric data Matt Damon’s character transmits back to NASA is very real.  In fact, it only takes from 4 to 21 minutes to send data back depending on the relative position of Earth and Mars in their orbits.  The Mars rovers currently transmit data regarding their Mars explorations back to earth.  It’s a sophisticated relay that starts with the Mars rovers transmitting to the Mars orbiters during an 8 minute window each day as they pass overhead, and then the orbiters relay the data back to earth at a much faster data rate than the rovers themselves can achieve.

Today, in the year 2016, a year firmly planted somewhere in between the history and the fiction referenced above, NASA is using video teleconferencing to connect doctors on earth to astronauts in orbit on the International Space Station. They have continually improved their systems to address the challenges of latency and data loss that a wireless transmission of this great distance can be subject to.  They use their systems to provide real time access to doctors as well as to allow the astronauts to see and talk to their families and to educate students who want to learn about life in space.

Given their history of innovation in this space (no pun intended) it is no surprise that NASA is not content to stop at video alone and is continuing to push the envelope.

“The focus of current agency efforts have expanded beyond the original mandate of telemetry and remote communication to encompass new “smart medical systems” that are designed not simply to communicate and diagnose ill astronauts—but also to provide physicians on the ground with the ability to remotely provide limited treatment options.”

NASA has also worked with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute and a key member of that association, Baylor College of Medicine, to develop advanced ultrasound technology to not only accurately diagnose things like illness and potential bone loss, but they also have the ability to focus and aim the ultrasound in a way that it can even stop internal bleeding in an emergency.

As you can probably imagine, these innovations can all have implications terrestrially as well, meaning that comprehensive remote treatments on Earth are probably not that far away.

Telemedicine will soon enable physicians to perform initial diagnosis, verify that diagnosis with physical patient data collected by remote diagnostic equipment including sensors, perform remote monitoring during treatment and recovery, and finally deliver after care and follow up.

So although telemedicine may have started as rocket science, today it is making remote care incredibly efficient and easy, not only in space, but also right here on Earth. Thank you NASA.

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.nasa.gov/content/a-brief-history-of-nasa-s-contributions-to-telemedicine/#.VvDndOIrLIU

#2: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition19/earth_day.html

#3: http://blogs.esa.int/mex/2012/08/05/time-delay-between-mars-and-earth/

#4: https://vsee.com/blog/nasa-chooses-vsee-telemedicine-video-conferencing-iss/

#5: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/03/prweb12562316.htm

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