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My Doctor is Where? The Future of Telemedicine – By David Chou

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Author – David Chou, Healthcare CIO

Hear from David Chou Live today at 1:00 EST – Future of Technology in Healthcare

Healthcare is shifting and technology plays a huge role in the disruption of healthcare.  It is a great time to be a CIO because we are at the core of the change.  The landscape has changed dramatically with the adoption of EMR across the nation.  According to the ONC in 2013, nearly six in ten (59%) hospitals had adopted at least a Basic EHR system. This represents an increase of 34% from 2012 to 2013 and a five-fold increase since 2008.  I am sure that percentage is even higher in 2015.  That was the first shift in healthcare and the next shift is moving towards a virtual care model utilizing the latest technology.  The evolution to a virtual care model is driven by the new generation of patients/consumers where the expectation has changed.  Consumers now expect the same level of access to healthcare as they get from verticals such as retail, airline, banking, etc. where they can get on-demand information, make transactions and receive personalized information.  We have already started that journey in healthcare but we must make a stronger push to make it happen now.
In this blog and in my upcoming Online Hangout & Discussion later today I will highlight the various stages of the virtual care model.
We have seen an emergence of telemedicine across the spectrum from all providers and now the retail space is emerging to provide healthcare to the consumers. I like the definition that Gartner uses to define telemedicine as “The connection between a patient and a healthcare provider for the delivery of healthcare services, regardless of the physical location of the participants. It uses information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries in the interests of advancing the health of individuals”.  
I believe most providers have started some sort of telemedicine beginning with video consultation. The market for video consultations increased from $100M in 2013 to a potential revenue of $13.7B in 2018 according to a study by Parks Associate.
The benefits of just doing video consultations are:
1. Extension of care to rural areas of medical networks
2. Decrease in readmission by utilizing digital technology to engage the patients from a preventative care aspect
3. Increase patient engagement and satisfaction where the patient can speak to a medical profession anywhere and anytime.
4. Most importantly, in my opinion, is that it will entail more involvement from the patients in taking care of themselves.
Video consultation is the first wave of virtual care whether it is integrated to the patient portal or a third party application that the patient must use to connect with a provider.  The second item on the first wave is remote ICU monitoring that I know alot of health systems are providing currently.   The verdict is still out on the remote ICU monitoring but the benefits that I see are the following:
1. The ability to accurately monitor and augment care delivery to ICU patients from a remote location.
2. It may potentially reduce time between problem identification and intervention resulting in reduction in the length of stay and hopefully better outcomes for the patient.
The second wave of virtual care is the introduction of tele-X services such asteledermatology, telestroke, telepsychiatry, etc.  This wave has started for some health systems but we are still 2-4 years away from having a mature model.  
While the technology for virtual healthcare is great and it is fairly mature at this point, there must be a lot of education from the healthcare ecosystem (providers,payers, clinicians) to make it a success.  The organization must have virtual care as part of their core strategy and figuring out the reimbursement model is crucial for the program to be self-sustaining.
Healthcare must meet the demands of the consumers who expect healthcare access from their mobile devices along with social engagements.  Mobile will be the future for healthcare access especially for the millennial generation.  In a survey done by SalesForce targeting the millennial generation, the results show that 71% would like for their doctors to use a mobile app for providing care and the milllennial generation is definitely interested in using telehealth and wearables as part of their healthcare routine.   The demand for the virtual care platform is growing and CIOs must prepare for the shift and have a plan in order for the organization to be successful.
Do you believe you will use Video Chat or some Virtual service to communicate with your Doctor in the next 2 years?
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David Chou

About David Chou

David, named one of the Top 100 Social CIOs, has worked within the healthcare industry for more than 15 years. David understands the healthcare business landscape and applies the appropriate technology solution for the business. Specializing in helping healthcare organizations (hospitals, health systems, MSO, life science) maximize their technology investment in order to start transforming the organization towards a digital enterprise. David also advises startup companies on their strategy in entering the healthcare vertical.

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