Technology has significantly advanced within the healthcare industry over the past decade. From the Affordable Care Act to wearable device technology, healthcare is transitioning to a more comprehensive, accessible, interoperable and personalized way of managing population health. Employers, health insurance brokers and health plan providers who do not adapt to the rapidly shifting health management landscape will struggle to keep up with the clinical and financial outcomes of those who embrace the new opportunities provided by modern day technology.
One example of a rising healthcare technology is telemedicine. Have you heard of it?
By definition, telemedicine is “the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.”
Perhaps telemedicine is the inevitable outcome of the many blooming healthcare technologies and innovations that have become available in recent years. Some of these include, but are not limited to, data software engines capable of multi-faceted healthcare analysis, Rx management tools, wearable devices and even smart phones. The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) states that healthcare telecommunication “is now becoming integrated into the ongoing operations of hospitals, specialty departments, home health agencies, private physician offices as well as consumer’s homes and workplaces.”
Employers whose bottom line goal is to improve their health plan by improving the health of their member population are primed to take full advantage of telecommunications, or “telemedicine,” through the applications provided by telehealth technology.
A few example applications of a telecommunication healthcare network, as describe by ATA, include “patient consultations via video conferencing, transmission of still images, e-health including patient portals, remote monitoring of vital signs, continuing medical education, consumer-focused wireless applications and nursing call centers,” all of which translate to:
Greater Healthcare Accessibility – Allowing physicians to reach and influence larger number of patients with unprecedented patient monitoring.
A Shift from a Patient-centered Model to a Consumer One – patients have the information they need to make informed and educated healthcare decisions to optimize their health network.
Cost Efficiency – Telehealth technologies like the ones linked above help reduce healthcare costs by improving health network communication, chronic disease management through remote monitoring, and by reducing or predicting ER admissions and readmissions.
When it comes to telemedicine, the main objective for anyone looking to implement and coordinate a healthy benefits plan – be it brokers, employers or providers – is to gather the necessary resources expeditiously and begin incorporating telehealth technologies to strategically improve population health.