There’s a big push for healthcare that supports active involvement from patients and their families in the design of new care models and in decision-making about individual options for treatment. This concept, known as patient-centric care, is guiding recent developments within the industry. As a result, one area of medicine is really heating up. Telemedicine is on the rise, and is hopefully on its way to being integrated into every day healthcare.
More than ever the industry is supporting these changes, as a recent survey shows that 84% of health care execs think telemedicine is important to their organization. Further, half of those surveyed agree that their primary motivation for implementing telemedicine is to provide better quality of care, as telemedicine’s capabilities can help provide better overall care for patients.
As the man known as the ‘father of telemedicine’, Dr. Jay Sanders explains, “and when you think about it, that’s not just an issue of convenience, it’s not just an issue of cost. It’s really an issue of patients’ physiology, their actual medical care… What the present technology affords the physician is an ability to better evaluate their patient in the patient setting, not in the doctor setting”.
Though telemedicine has obvious benefits for patients, there are still hurdles to incorporating these technologies into every day healthcare. First and foremost of these issues is payment regulation, and the need for Medicare and insurance companies to recognize and reimburse fully for telemedicine. As of right now 40% of organizations are not reimbursed for these services. Fortunately, this may be resolved in the near future thanks to the Telehealth Parity Act of 2014, which is currently being reviewed by the House.
Telemedicine has endless possibilities, and I’ll finish off by giving an example of just what this may look like for the future healthcare. An app called Pager was recently launched that is calling itself the “Uber for house calls”, helping patients in NYC to receive house calls any time during the day through the app. Programs such as this one aim to make it easier for patients to receive convenient, quality care and technology continues to make this goal more attainable. Once regulations can catch up to this progress, telemedicine will truly be able to live up to its potential.