As 2016 draws to a close, we thought it would be a good time to look back on the year and pull together some of the most interesting, intriguing and informative quotes from experts, physicians and others in the know about telemedicine.
“The evidence supporting the role of telemedicine is strong. Studies have shown that telemedicine promotes continuity of care, decreases the cost of care, and improves patient self-management and overall clinical outcomes… Telemedicine can also help in identifying and preventing treatment-related errors between clinic visits. As one example, a number of studies have shown that medication errors can be significantly reduced by telemedicine.”
Stephen Agboola, MD, with Connected Health, an innovation and IT-focused department of Partners HealthCare
“We found that children seen by telemedicine using real-time video conferencing and digital exam equipment was just as effective as in-person visits. In addition, there were high levels of satisfaction by the kids and their parents, regarding the long-distance care.”
Allergist, Jay Portnoy, M.D
“The best treatment for PTSD, with the most empirical support, can be delivered at no loss of effectiveness, directly into a veteran’s home, rather than having the veteran come into clinic. We can now save the travel time and bring the treatment right to them.”
Ron Acierno, lead study author
On Consumer Demand
“Clearly consumers are not only becoming aware of telemedicine but starting to demand access to it. It is becoming a part of the standard of care that should be made available throughout the country.”
Jonathan D. Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association
On Mental Health
“This study found that telemedicine is a viable alternative modality for providing evidence-based psychotherapy for elderly patients with depression. Results provide evidence that quality of life and satisfaction with care are not adversely influenced by the decision to use a telehealth modality instead of in-person treatment, and, as a result, resources can be devoted to offering services in patients’ homes through telemedicine.”
Leonard Egede, M.D., a researcher at the at the Medical University of South Carolina and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston
“We view telemedicine as an important tool in increasing consumer access to high quality, affordable healthcare, improving patient satisfaction and reducing cost. Given recent advances in technology, telemedicine gives customers a new way to be more engaged in their care, and save time and money. Additionally, telemedicine contributes to the value-based care goals of patient engagement, expanded hours for primary care, population health management and care coordination,”
Representatives from eleven private insurers, including Aetna, Humana and Anthem, in a public letter to Congressional Budget Office director Keith Hall.
“If we can remove 50 percent of the people taking time off work and arranging for child care so they can sit in the waiting room to just receive a diagnosis to wait it out … it just makes the health care system more efficient.”
Nate Gladwell, director of the University of Utah telehealth program
On Value for Providers
“Healthcare providers need to think of virtual care as a means to improve patient access and provider efficiency, especially as value-based contracts and other reimbursement incentives gain a greater share of revenue, while meeting patient care needs by filling gaps for key medical specialties. Telehealth is rapidly evolving beyond urgent care and is increasingly used for follow up visits and helping chronically ill patients connect with their doctor online. Health plans and government payers are seeing the value from the technology and enhancing reimbursement for virtual care.”
Richard Bakalar, M.D., managing director at KPMG and a member of the firm’s Global Healthcare Center of Excellence.
On Medicare Policy
“Under fee-for-service, telehealth is only covered if it’s in a rural area, or it’s a participating Medicare facility, but I think that’s going to change in the next several years or even in the next several months as more people are embracing telehealth because it’s cost effective and also it’s really about quality of care. If a patient goes to the ER, the minute they get admitted they have an increased risk for hospital-acquired infection. Telehealth is a great way to help prevent these costly hospitalizations.”
Rahul Sharma, M.D., emergency physician-in-chief, division of emergency medicine, New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center
On Patient Satisfaction
“Patients today are choosing their providers, in part, based on how well they use technology to communicate with them and manage their health. Care providers who build deeper patient relationships through care-from-anywhere options, the use of wearables and better communications post-discharge, will be in a strong position to be successful today and into the future.”
Joshua Newman, M.D., chief medical officer, Salesforce Healthcare and Life Sciences
“Folks in Silicon Valley say that technology will replace humans. Maybe someday, but today it’s about leveraging the human relationship. Technology can amplify that. We want to meet you at least once, and that changes the nature of the relationship. After that we can use a ton of technology. When you schedule a visit online, we will ask if you prefer a phone, online or in-person visit, and that is after we met you once. And we’re indifferent to the answer.”
Rushika Fernandopulle, M.D., CEO of Iora Health
“ … we’re on the edge of a major expansion in virtual care—when there is this much demand from consumers, the industry must pay attention. But for healthcare providers, implementing a comprehensive telehealth strategy is easier said than done—otherwise we’d have made more progress in the last two decades. The infrastructure for actually delivering virtual care, and integrating patient and claims data from telehealth visits with mainstream clinical and financial systems, are two significant challenges. And providers also need to be aware of and address patient concerns.”
Russ Mulert, innovation office, Xerox Healthcare Business Group
Clearly, 2016 saw a lot of progress and discussion around issues related to telemedicine. We know that the conversation will continue in the years to come and we’re delighted to be a part of it.