Dr. Steven R. Gerst: Telemedicine Is the Future of Healthcare Delivery for Many.
Steven R. Gerst explores significant developments in telemedicine that are transforming healthcare in the United States. For more information, visit: http://stevenrgerst.com.
Fort Lauderdale, FL, September 21, 2015 (Newswire.com) - Miami, FL, September 21, 2015 (Newswire) -Telemedicine, Connected Health and “Precision Medicine” are clearly the future of healthcare delivery in the U.S for both urban and rural markets. Goldman Sachs predicts over annual 158 million virtual telemedicine annual physician visits by 20201. With a 15% rise in the number of employers offering telemedicine options as a benefit to employees this year, the number is expected to grow another 34 percent between 2016 and 2017 from both (a) self-insured employers, and (b) insurers offering Medicare Advantage, Managed Medicaid and commercially insured plans/ASO arrangements.
New, superior health and wellness monitoring technologies, screening tools and virtual connectivity through the “Internet of Things (IoT)” is providing enhanced delivery of consumer friendly healthcare services with significantly improved cost effectiveness. In addition to being more affordable to businesses, employers are also realizing how telemedicine is helping to reduce healthcare costs, improve health care access, increasing both productivity and employee satisfaction.
Very soon, the home security companies, with millions of existing sensors in millions of homes will offer connected health and patient portal platforms. Continuous home monitoring of patient vital signs, glucose levels, weight and wound care through 2-D and 3 D camera technologies will enable a meteoric rise in consumer acceptance and connectivity to hospital and provider Electronic Medical Record systems for continuity of care and “Precision Medicine.”
This unprecedented access to secure patient data from the home will allow for efficient medical triage mechanisms to determine non-acute vs. acute care patient needs to maximize access to the appropriate level of immediate care needed. This will reduce time needed off from work/school for physician office and Emergency Room visits while screening for diagnosis. In many cases, prescription drug therapies and specialist referrals can be made immediately available to patients in both urban and rural setting.
If a hospital emergency room visit or admission is necessary, then these home monitoring systems can then enable post-hospitalization discharge care for both routine and chronic conditions such as Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease/Asthma, Diabetes, wound care and other home bound medical conditions to prevent unnecessary hospital readmissions.
For example, Essentia Health in Duluth, MN reported a readmission rate for Congestive Heart Failure of only 2% compared to a national average of 25% by providing the patient with a connect home weight scale to monitor the patient’s fluid balance and salt intake that is remotely monitored by a nurse practitioner as part of their ACO2. Since Medicare’s 2015 Hospital Readmissions Reductions Program penalizes hospitals up to 3% of their Medicare Reimbursement from CMS for excess readmissions3 [Section 3025 Affordable Care Act; section 1886(q) Social Security Act], this can provide a significant cost savings for hospitals as well as owned Accountable Care Organizations.
In the past few months, Validic, the nation’s leading digital health platform, announced alignments with Cerner (NASDAQ:CERN), the nation’s largest publically traded Electronic Medical Records company with 18,000 hospital and facility systems installations globally, MEDITECH4 and InterSystems5 to integrate clinical, fitness, wellness and nutritional data into the patient’s personal health portal. With the patient’s consent, that information is sent on to their electronic medical record giving their physicians and nurses visibility to their health status daily.
In addition, CVS recently announced alignments with three large telemedicine companies (American Well, Teledoc and Doctor-on-Demand) to provide virtual visits with nurse practitioners through CVS’s Minute Clinics. Similarly, Walgreens announced their relationship with telemedicine company MD Live for their telemedicine services. The impact of telemedicine in healthcare today is rapidly growing due to the exceptional benefits it offers, such as improved access to healthcare services, especially to patients in distant locations. Telemedicine also improves cost efficiencies, by reducing the cost of services through the implementation of telehealth technologies.
Telehealth technologies help facilitate better management of chronic diseases. These technologies also foster shared health professional staffing, reduce travel times for patients, and are chiefly responsible for fewer hospital stays that are also shorter in duration. As we take note of these fundamental advantages that telemedicine has introduced to significantly transform healthcare as a whole, we must also recognize the improved quality of services to the patient, their family, and the community.
To learn more about the latest growth in telemedicine, visit: www.stevenrgerst.com.
Steven R. Gerst is a graduate of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (M.D.), Columbia College (B.A.), Columbia School of Public Health – Health Administration (M.P.H.) and the Goizuetta School of Business at Emory University (M.B.A.). He is a Diplomat in the American College of Healthcare Executives. He is also Dean Emeritus of the Masters of Science Program in Applied Health Informatics at Bryan University (Los Angeles, Sacramento, Toronto and Phoenix) where he serves on the Board of Advisors and has taught on the faculty. Dr. Steven Gerst is currently at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine in the Office of the Chief Innovation Officer and Vice Provost as an “Entrepreneur–in-Residence,” and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine.