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ATA 2013 – Not All TeleHealth Markets Are Created Equal

Being able to participate at an American Telemedicine Association event in Austin, Texas has been a true highlight of 2013. The conference and its attendees were a-buzz with more remote monitoring devices than I knew existed, infinite possibilities to provide “care anywhere,” and a fantastic array of new connections in this growing facet of our industry. Thought-provoking conversations centered on convergence of healthcare and ICT, needs and opportunities for telehealth stakeholders, and telehealth’s impact on treatment and prevention.

ATA 2013 – Not All TeleHealth Markets Are Created Equal A common theme throughout the event was the current state of the industry and how connected health solutions are creating pathways to transform healthcare. This includes things such as workflow optimization, provider and patient engagement, and new application opportunities in the field of care. Telehealth has the power to impact both treatment and prevention in healthcare, which is crucial to shifting the burden of healthcare costs down, and the ability to improve outcomes.

During the event, I was privileged to take part in a Market Watch panel, “Not All Telehealth Markets are Equal,” hosted by Frost & Sullivan. This panel consisted of representatives from companies focused on remote monitoring, video telemedicine, mHealth, and home healthcare. We discussed key differences and similarities between these top market verticals concerning challenges, business models, and future growth.

Each of the panelists were asked several questions:

  1. What are the most innovative or transformative use examples of telehealth solutions you are seeing live in practice, which can impact change and outcomes?
  2. What restraints and challenges are people facing out in the market now especially in terms of realizing revenue growth and potential for telehealth solutions? Why will the future be different from the past?
  3. What are some best practices you have seen in getting patients engaged with mobile and telehealth solutions and actually driving behavioral change?
  4. Would you agree with our (Frost & Sullivan) view of the importance of video telemedicine in leading markets in telehealth, and what realized uptake is being seen in practice currently and what other factors are important to make this work?

Innovative telehealth use

There is a great deal of innovative  telehealth use, but one example I shared involved doctors recording patients’ visits (using Show ‘n Share) and sending a link of the recording to the patients after the fact so they can easily watch it again, and share with family and friends. This represents an innovative and different use of telehealth technology – it supports patients who are likely inundated with information during their visit and allows them to relive their consult remotely. 

Restraints and challenges

Telehealth now encompasses so many different channels patients want to use to interact with their healthcare system – telephone, mobile, social, email, text, web chat, etc. This means health care providers and payers must invest in the proper operational infrastructure to support these consumer connection expectations.  I gave the example of a patient with an illness, who wants to talk to a doctor remotely, and expects to be “seen” within 15 minutes. A payer or provider cannot expect to deliver that specific level of service unless they have a centralized infrastructure that is dedicated to operations. In order for this to be scalable, health systems will have to invest in elements such as contact center, unified communications, secure wireless infrastructures, and endpoints with solutions like Jabber and WebEx. These are just examples of some solutions that can be deployed in order to make telehealth work seamlessly to provide patients with the best remote care experience possible.

Best practices

Many panelists discussed gamification and how it is becoming a tool to engage consumers, as it ties to human nature, competitiveness and camaraderie. I discussed this from my personal standpoint. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a strategy that healthcare should deploy more because many health systems are being asked to think and act more like retailers in-nature. Healthcare systems need to take a page from companies who have to know their customers well and respond. This requires a strategic shift in how they approach and interact with patients and families, creating an infrastructure that would allow patients and family members or loved ones to communicate and interact with their care professionals via the communication method they choose. A sophisticated CRM strategy and eco-system is necessary to manage this.

Importance of video telemedicine

To drive home the importance of video in telehealth and the need for more efficiency in healthcare, I highlighted the model for primary care. I noted that primary care itself could be more remote and centralized at the same time. This could be a market differentiator for the health systems that deploy such a model, because the cost structure would be significantly reduced. A key technology component that supports this is a call manager feature combined with  remote video technology that looks at hundreds of doctors to determine who may be available at any given time. As telehealth and telemedicine technology begins to grow and be widely adopted, this will be even more important. In order for it to scale and cross organization boundaries, it must be interoperable with different devices and endpoints and be able to connect in any way possible.

One thing is for sure; telehealth cannot exist without the support and adoption of the clinical community.  The only way to ensure successful adoption of new technology is hand-in-hand implementation that’s tailored to the desired clinical workflow and to ensure that clinicians are championing it across the organization.

Learn more about ATA and the “Not All Telehealth Markets are Equal,” panel I participated in. And let me know any thoughts you have about my responses to the panel questions.

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Collaboration in the New Age of Convergence

I was in the grocery store when I realized that something new was going on: our entrance into the era of computing that I call convergence — the convergence of man and machine – is already changing the face of collaboration.DiM_Carlos_Blog_3_c#4AD694012

In the recent past, collaboration did a great job of connecting people to people through video, voice and the virtual workspace, which improved productivity and the intimacy of connection.  A video chat, whether for business or pleasure, communicates more than a simple phone call.  Add a collective workspace and you’re off like a rocket. In this collaboration between people, the technology served as a conduit.

But now I’m sensing the beginning of something different: collaborating with the machine itself. Here’s an example: I’m pretty focused on maintaining my health and my weight so when I go to the grocery store, I have a health app that’s connected to my online health profile and running with augmented reality.  When I show my phone my choice of broccoli, it votes thumbs up; when I grab my favorite cookies, it displays the calories and cholesterol they will add to my daily intake, notes that it’s contrary to medication I’m on, and advises me against it.  (Of course when I get to the beer aisle, I over-ride its displeasure: this is collaborative, after all, not dictatorial!)

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Cisco Workshop offers solution for Mobile Health and BYOD Healthcare challenges

March 12, 2013 at 1:52 pm PST

Where does a Healthcare organization begin when facing Mobile Health or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) challenges? The annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS 2013) conference highlighted how technology and healthcare quality have converged more than ever before. This is a new era where video, mobile and social media technologies are enabling providers to deliver enhanced patient experiences. The Cisco BYOD Strategy Planning Service for Connected Health solves Mobile Technology and BYOD challenges. Consider the following data relative to the explosion of multiple devices: Read More »

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Cisco solves Healthcare BYOD challenges

December 18, 2012 at 8:00 am PST

Research from IDC Health Insights (Clinical Buyer Behavior Study) shows on average clinicians typically use 6.4 different mobile devices daily for professional use.  Recently, I participated in a Cisco Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) workshop discussing challenges Healthcare organizations have supporting mobile devices with reliable, high performance, in-building wireless coverage while maintaining operational efficiencies. Healthcare experts from Networking, Security and IT discussed challenges facing Healthcare and various ways BYOD is defined. A common question is  how to address challenges with BYOD. What recommendations does Cisco Healthcare offer in implementing BYOD? What options are available with wireless reducing security risks? What are Cisco’s best practices with BYOD maintaining compliance with regulatory policies and accreditation requirements?

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Connected Health – It’s About Being There

Years ago I was standing next to the Chief Trauma Surgeon (CTS) in an Emergency Department while the team worked feverishly to resuscitate an injured EMT.  The EMT had been struck by a speeding car while at the scene of an accident. In one split second he went from being a first responder to being a patient.  My job was to relay information to the Operating Room to make sure the Trauma Suite was prepared appropriately should this patient survive long enough to make it to surgery.  The code had been going on for almost an hour and all the efforts of a dozen brilliant and highly trained professionals seemed to have no impact.  In fact, things just seemed to be getting worse.  Finally the resident came over and asked the CTS if we should ‘call it’.  In hospital speak, that means to admit defeat and acknowledge that the patient cannot be resuscitated.  It means, literally, to call the time of death.  I watched while the weight of the decision spread over the face of the CTS and change his posture as if an actual physical weight had been put on his shoulders.   After a few minutes, he turned without a word to walk towards the waiting room to speak to the family.  He had only taken a few steps when he turned around and came back.  “No, keep going.”  The commitment and compassion I saw in his face that day has never left me.  He was there for that EMT.  The power of truly being there to make a difference hit home.

At Cisco, we are working to make it easier to “be there”.  To bring knowledge and expertise right to where it is needed, no matter where you are, no matter who you are.  We are using technology to connect not just machines and data bases, but people.  Today, we see the powerful forces of social, mobility, the cloud and information coming together.  Gartner describes this as the Nexus of Forces. This nexus is disrupting old models and creating new market transitions. Scaling these technologies is making things possible that were not possible before.  And Cisco is working to be there, to help you be there.

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