I’ve talked on the telepresence blog about how telepresence can help bring healthcare to those who would otherwise go without. But the technology can also play an important role with those people who do receive treatment: it can help teach them to manage their care at home and prevent return trips to the hospital.
According to a recent Washington Post article, the U.S. Department of Education conducted a study that revealed that 36 percent of adults have only rudimentary literacy skills for understanding health material. An estimated 14 percent of these adults struggle with complete illiteracy. Another 52 percent of the total adult population has intermediate skills, meaning they can interpret and follow basic drug administration directions, while only 12 percent of the population has attained proficiency in reading, understanding, and following what the doctor or pharmacist says.
The nation’s limited health literacy costs us as much as $238 billion each year in hospital re-admissions and treating avoidable complications, the article said. To remedy these problems, hospitals and health plans have begun to implement technology to help identify and simplify confusing medical jargon that finds its way into written patient instructions.
But what about the 14 percent who can’t read at all? The Post noted that some healthcare providers have started giving patients instructional videos or picture-filled handouts. While these are great tools for patients to have, telepresence provides even more: the visual of the videos, the detail of the pictures, and the human connection.
With telepresence a patient can talk to a provider in real time, ask personal questions, demonstrate for the doctor how they plan to take their medicine … the list goes on. I have to think catching up with patients here and there via telepresence would cost less—in dollars and hours—than readmitting, retesting, retreating, and re-instructing someone in the emergency room. Not to mention the decrease in anxiety for doctors and patients that would come with knowing people are properly managing their care.
Increased knowledge for patients, less frustration and repeat care for providers—sounds like a win-win to me.
If you are like me, going to the Doctor’s is not a favorite task…I especially hate the waiting in the office knowing that I am surrounded by germs, contagions, and other icky stuff. So the idea of being able to see my doctor virtually is very appealing to me! Connected healthcare is not a new concept and Cisco has been leading the way in providing technology solutions that reduce the cost of quality care for chronically ill patients, increase the control on infectious diseases, produce a reduction in epidemics, decrease the rate of medical errors, and provide better customer service.
Before we proceed let’s define connected health, according to Wikipedia the definition is:
Connected Health is a term used to describe a model for healthcare delivery that uses technology to provide healthcare remotely. Connected health aims to maximize healthcare resources and provide increased, flexible opportunities for consumers to engage with clinicians and better self-manage their care. It uses technology – often leveraging readily available consumer technologies – to deliver patient care outside of the hospital or doctor’s office. Connected health encompasses programs in telehealth, remote care (such as home care) and disease and lifestyle management, often leverages existing technologies such as connected devices using existing cellular networks and is associated with efforts to improve chronic care.
This video provides a framework for Cisco’s vision of the future of healthcare.
With Cisco’s Community for Connected Health Summit and HIMSS taking place this week it is no surprise that new announcements are being published regarding the continued evolution of connected healthcare. Some of the announcements over the last couple of weeks include:
Tunstall Healthcare to provide telehealth to more than 6,000 patients in New South Wales, Australia. The primary goal is to prevent re-hospitalization. The program aims to help health professionals better manage chronic conditions, with telehealth as a key component.
KVIE Public Television’s, “Digital Doctors — The Future of Healthcare,” features coverage of Cisco’s work in advancing telehealth services in healthcare. This segment examines how new advancements in healthcare technology are enabling doctors and other clinicians to remotely interact and diagnose patients from miles away.
I for one am looking forward to no more icky waiting rooms, yeah to the doctor always being in!