Scalable telemedicine, transforming remote care in 2018

Hospitals and health systems need next-generation healthcare services to keep up with the growing U.S. population and increasing number of aging Americans.

While the patient population continues to expand, the healthcare provider community is shrinking. The Association of American Medical Colleges reports that the U.S. will face a shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 physicians by 2030, and that the number of new primary care physicians and other medical specialists entering the field is not keeping pace with the demands of a growing and aging population.

As the shortage of physicians grows more acute, the need for new forms of care delivery is increasing. Telemedicine will become even more prevalent, with some experts predicting that virtual visits will soon outpace in-person visits. Telemedicine technology has improved in recent years, with a new generation of enterprise-level platforms that are enabling hospitals and healthcare systems to scale and extend virtual services to multiple service lines to manage the digital health care continuum–essentially creating a digital exam room.

ScalableTelemedicine

These digital exam rooms are allowing for improved treatment adherence and are cutting patient wait time. They represent a form of “consumerism” in healthcare, by which health systems can meet the patient demand for quick and easy access to their providers for non-critical visits. An on-demand approach to healthcare is not just beneficial to the patient; it also cuts down emergency department visits and wait times as patients can seek appropriate advice from their trusted physician before heading to the ER.

Digital exam rooms can be especially helpful in the treatment of chronic disease, which affects many aging Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic diseases and conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity and arthritis are among the most common, costly and preventable of all health problems. Additionally, about half of all adults in the U.S.—117 million people—have one or more chronic health conditions.

Digital exam rooms are now extending healthcare providers’ reach of care to check in on patients at home and follow up on chronic conditions. These telemedicine interventions are vital for monitoring overall health before any serious health concerns develop. Not only is this cutting patient hospital admissions and re-admissions, it’s improving overall patient wellness and cutting costs.

Launching a Scalable Digital Exam Room
Telemedicine is on all healthcare providers’ to-do lists, but many struggle with how to get started. When integrating telemedicine into a hospital or health system, it’s important to consider scalability for the future. In 2018, providers are seeking future-proof telemedicine platforms that offer the opportunity to weave in multiple service lines to connect the care enterprise. With a scalable platform, providers can launch telemedicine in one department and strategically introduce the digital exam room into workflows today, while laying the groundwork to extend the telehealth ecosystem to other service lines in the future.

White-label versions can even leverage a patient’s trusted provider or health systems branding during every virtual exchange. Furthermore, providers should prioritize cloud-based functionality to safely and securely store all personal health information with the highest levels of HIPAA and HITECH compliance. Patients also benefit from convenient access to care from the comfort of their own home, reduced costs, and the ability to better manage and treat illnesses or chronic conditions.
By making telehealth a provider and patient priority, hospitals and health systems can remain competitive in the fast-paced world of healthcare, and help address the needs of a growing patient population more effectively.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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