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HIMSS 2012 – Spotlight on Accountable Care

One major topic at this year’s HIMSS 2012 Conference, was accountable care programs. As January 1, 2012 marked the initial period for healthcare organizations to start the application process to become eligible for Accountable Care Organization status there was much debate about whether or not ACOs could improve healthcare while reducing costs.

The coordinated care provided by an Accountable Care Organization can help ensure that patients, especially the chronically ill, get the right care at the right time, with the goal of avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors.

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Telehealth In Action: Remote Care for Veterans

The victim of a gunshot wound to the back of the head, Joseph “Jay” Briseno Jr. came home from his 2003 tour of duty in Iraq to an entirely different life—one that requires extensive ongoing care.

To make necessary healthcare services more accessible to Jay, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C. (DCVAMC) worked with Cisco TelePresence to tailor a telehealth solution specifically to Jay’s needs. Jay can communicate with his doctors through the telehealth device installed in his family home, 30 miles away from the hospital, and avoid the ambulance ride he would otherwise have to take every time he had an appointment.

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As Hospitals Accommodate Technological Expansion, Could Telepresence Do More?

As hospitals and health systems continuously adapt to the changing healthcare needs and practices of the 21st century, technology takes on an ever-expanding role. According to the Hospital Providers on the Move report, completed by SK&A healthcare marketing company, audio visual and media systems accounted for one of the fastest expanding employment areas between March 2010 and March 2011 at healthcare establishments across the country.

We’ve seen how audio and visual media, especially telepresence, have helped patients access difficult-to-reach doctors for illnesses ranging from Parkinson’s disease to psychiatric disorders. Perhaps the hiring increase for Directors of Audio Visual/Media Services indicates that even more hospitals have found technology like telepresence can enhance patient care. Read More »

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Telehealth, Including Telesurgery, Expected to Rapidly Expand

We’ve seen some great examples of how telehealth services help reach patients living in rural areas that lack easy access to medical care. With telepresence technology, these patients can have face-to-face visits with their doctors as frequently as needed, without having to leave home or face long commutes to the hospital.

Knowing how much the people using these telehealth services rely on their high-quality, convenient patient care, it is great to read that market researchers expect the global telemedicine market to expand by 19 percent by 2014. According to a forecast by market analysts at Technavio, United States federal grants supporting telehealth contribute significantly to the forecasted industry growth. An increase in strategic partnerships in telemedicine also helps boost telehealth’s prominence.

As telemedicine continues to expand throughout the United States, Europe and developing nations also continue to offer more opportunities for remote care, according to the market report. It’s exciting to think of the international collaboration possibilities for telehealth as it spreads worldwide. Imagine a telepresence connection between an expert in France, a patient in rural New York, and the patient’s doctor in New York City. The top minds in different specialties could communicate effortlessly, sharing cutting-edge findings and offering the best care available.

We’re already seeing truly innovative international telepresence collaboration in telesurgery, a field the Technavio report predicted would continue to expand. In September, a Kenyan patient underwent the African nation’s first telesurgery procedure. Specialists in India guided the operation via telepresence.

Would you let robots perform your surgery if you knew the best hands in the field led the procedure in real-time through telepresence? It sounds impossible, but with telepresence widely available, it could be the wave of the future!

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USDA Grants Help Rural Communities Connect

A recent study from the U.K. Department of Health finds that using remote monitoring technology to keep tabs on patients’ blood sugar and cardiopulmonary disease can reduce the risk of patient mortality by up to 45 percent. With statistics like this, hospitals and medical clinics can’t afford not to embrace telehealth technologies. Not to mention, telehealth is quickly becoming a competitive differentiator in some markets around the U.S. According to Mark Probst, CIO for Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, “I don’t see how the hospital CEO can ignore telemedicine.”

While tech-savvy patients in urban areas will likely begin to demand more user-friendly access to healthcare, therefore driving the adoption of telehealth in metropolitan-area hospitals, the technology is more than just a convenience for residents in rural areas; it can be the difference between life and death. Read More »

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