Telemedicine and Telehealth: The Future of Healthcare

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Telehealth is the use of advance technologies communication services to provide a clinical care and health related distance learning between patient and health professionals. I think telemedicine is more of the delivery of care. Telehealth is somewhat broader that includes the educational component.

There have been huge advancements in the technologies themselves, in the computer technologies, in wireless applications, android devices, iPads which have really moved forward, point of care devices that patients travel with, or keep in their home. But also, the proliferation of broadband communications networks has played a huge role in our ability to mainstream telehealth in many ways.

I've been surprised how adaptable the medical community has been and how patients are as well actually. So, the learning curve itself is not being so much the challenge. The greater the challenge was getting the systems in place the reimbursement mechanisms in place, ensuring sufficient bandwidth training of the staff in terms of protocols, and then of course evaluating and sharing outcomes together.

Virginia is a fairly pro active state as far as Telemedicine is concerned work with all levels of government. The department have been very supportive the virginity general assembly has passed legislation that is to enable Telemedicine to flourish and proliferate in our state.

But, on a federal level we still face many challenges and as an example many curable only patients for services provider to reimburse in rural areas. So, the way we were discriminating against our non-rural senior citizens who could certainly benefit from the use of Telemedicine deliver care.

I've talked to many patients who have been engaged in Tele medicine, and the video quality is so high quality right now. And we have HT systems, that the patient really feel that the distant disappears because you are able to have such a high resolution imaging connecting one another.

I think we will certainly be able to provide better care, we will be able to intervene in earlier basis. If we look at the department of Veteran affairs, Telemedicine program they have a care coordination and home Telehealth program. They have significantly reduced re-admission into the hospital on hospital days.

There are many systems across the country that have done the same thing with the reduction of as much as 90% of re-admissions to the hospital. We know that patients who are discharged from the hospital, often do make their follow up visits, often don't take their pills, may not understand the discharge instructions is a coordinated fashion.

If someone is checking on you on a daily basis, virtually and you are transmitting your data, we have the opportunity to ensure that recommendations are being followed, and be intervened in the time of fashion. The American Telemedicine association now has 5000 members, representing broad spectrum of interested parties.

Health professionals, we have students, we have industry, telecommunication providers, insurance companies, so people are getting together to talk about how we can use technology to improve health. I truly believe that the the triple A and CMS improving access, improving quality and lowering cost are totally are totally the measure of Telemedicine.