Digital transformation – the use of technology to affect a fundamental and dramatic shift in how value is delivered – is impacting every industry.  Healthcare is no exception and we’re seeing more and more providers and patients learning how technology can create more convenient, efficient, and often effective healthcare.

One of the key elements of connected health is the removal of geography as a barrier to care through the use of consumer-influenced technologies like telehealth and remote patient monitoring.  Solutions like these connect physicians, specialists, clinical and hospital staff, patients, and family members or other caretakers – along with patient data – and enable access to and delivery of care regardless of location.

The demand for connected healthcare is only going to increase as the digital economy continues to replace traditional models and as word spreads about its effectiveness.  In fact, 97% of patients who have used telehealth services say they are satisfied with their experiences and would recommend it to others.  In addition, 63% of patients report no difference in the quality of care received during a virtual visit compared to in-person appointments.

The good news is that, already, a strong majority of academic hospitals (91%) and health systems (89%) have virtual care technology in place.  Community hospitals trail to some degree at 76%, largely driven by a wide margin of adoption between states.  The majority of states have between 30-70% of their community hospitals using telehealth technology in either provider-to-provider or provider-to-patient scenarios.  While five states lead the nation at 70% or more (Utah, Connecticut, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska), seven others are below 30%.

Those systems that are using connected health services are able to reduce the burden on both physicians and patients in several ways.

Remote patient monitoring

RPM includes the use of medical devices that collect and transmit data to providers, regardless of where patients are located, allowing them to maintain normalcy of life without reducing quality of care.   Stroke care is among the top two use cases for telehealth, and a million patients in America are currently using remote cardiac monitors

Virtual Visits

Along with RPM, virtual visits are among the top use cases for telehealth-related technologies.  Virtual visits make it possible for patients to engage with physicians, specialists and other clinic staff in lieu of having to travel to hospitals or clinics.  This can be done using mobile apps or web-based telehealth portals or apps.  The reduction in time and cost provides value to both parties and allows patients to receive care and consultation more conveniently, while allowing physicians work more efficiently and serve more patients.  For cases where second opinions are desired to make decisions based on clinical data, virtual visits can make seeking additional advice easier, particularly from geographically disparate specialists.

Provider-to-provider Support

It’s not uncommon for physicians to seek advice, second opinions, or other support from colleagues or specialists in certain fields of medicine.  Often, these specialists are located in different facilities, but telehealth makes it possible to provide and receive supporting consultations, including the sharing of patient records and images.  This can even include live video consultation during procedures or examinations to provide real-time advice and better outcomes.

Healthcare is not immune to the consumerization of business models that is impacting nearly every vertical.  In the healthcare space, EHRs, mobile devices, and near-ubiquitous high-speed Internet access make it possible for patients and providers to make better decisions than ever about patient care.

To learn how telehealth, RPM, and other connected health solutions can help your practice deliver better outcomes, visit us here.

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