Remember…it is about the patient!

A couple of weeks ago, I listened to a presentation on Minnesota Public Broadcasting (MPR) by Adam Darkins, MD, which again energized me about the work that we do supporting the growth and development of telehealth.

Dr. Darkins, VP for Medical Affairs and Enterprise Technology Develop at Medtronic, was presenting at a conference in Minneapolis focused on the use of technology in healthcare. Early on in his presentation he said something that made me sit up a bit straighter and listen just a bit more closely. It was something that I have heard many times from a former co-worker of mine (a registered nurse and telehealth champion): remember, it is about the patient.

Yes! That is who must stay at the absolute center of our focus as we discuss all things telehealth!

Telehealth, more simply healthcare, must focus on what is happening with the patient. When we consider the new opportunities in telehealth, we need to specifically identify what problem we are trying to solve, not just for the provider, the health system or the insurance company, but for the patient.

While convenience and access are both key components to the value of telehealth, it needs to be about more. It must also be about improvements – improvements in a patient’s overall health, improvement in the overall costs of providing that care, improvements in the health of the general public – in order for telehealth to truly make a difference.

Or maybe, as Dr. Darkins shared, it is about shifting the model of care to more fully benefit the patient. Maybe the patient’s primary care location really is considered their home, and they would “in-reach to the hospital” or clinic for supportive services and care when needed, rather than obtaining “outreach from the hospital” only after a major illness episode or the identification of a disease. His description of the current or traditional healthcare delivery model as being “very much from the industrial age”, where you brought people TO their care access point, is really not the way the rest of the world functions today. It is becoming more important to figure out ways to bring healthcare to the patient, in their everyday experiences. The right place for the provision of care could be almost anywhere, and the right time could be now.

Healthcare, supported by telehealth, needs to continue to focus on what is actually being done and why, remembering always…it is about the patient!

Listen to the entire presentation here:

Telemedicine featured in Sunday’s Star Tribune

This weekend, telemedicine made it into the Twin Cities’ Star Tribune paper, with a full page spread in the business section titled “Tele-medicine taking off”.  The article, written by Jackie Crosby, highlights local physician Dr. Greg Smith, his confidence in the future of telemedicine services, and the online care service Consult A Doctor, where he serves as the chief medical officer.  Consult A Doctor, which is one of a growing number of online consultation platforms, operates solely through telecommunication technologies (phone, email, videoconference), allowing patients to connect with providers 24 hours a day to resolve basic health complaints.  According to the article, Consult A Doctor has performed over 200,000 consultations in the past six years, and is being increasingly adopted by employers and travel insurance agencies.  The article also highlights several other Minnesota based online consultation services including Virtuwell (provided by HealthPartners), and American Well (provided by BCBS Minnesota, UnitedHealth Group, Medtronic).

To read the full article, “Tele-medicine taking off”, click here.

Using Telehealth to Improve Time Management

Here is an article published recently in the December HealthLeaders magazine.  It highlights the role that telemedicine services can play in better managing physicians’ time, the use of telemedicine in an ACO, the role telemedicine can play in the overall strategic direction for the organization, and other benefits.  It will be exciting to see how this project grows as they expand it out of the pilot phase.