Past the Tipping Point

tipping point

Last Thursday I promised to discuss our takeaways from the ATA conference individually in more detail, starting with

#1 We’re past the tipping point.

I won’t belabor the point of the overall importance of this takeaway, as you can read about it here.  However, I will re-quote ATA CEO Jonathan Linkous because his numbers make a good launching point: “Today, 20 million Americans get some part of their healthcare remotely, and that number will grow as telemedicine expands its reach.”  And the ATA President, Edward Brown, believes that mHealth/Telemedicine will grow by 50% every year.

According to a study by IHS Technology and published in January, the almost 350,000 telehealth patients in 2013 will swell to Read more

3 Takeaways from ATA 2014

ATA takeaways

Yes, we’re perhaps a little late with this posting.  However, we think the key takeaways (for us) from this year’s ATA  (American Telemedicine Association) conference are important enough to immortalize anyway.

#1 We’re past the tipping point.

This was such a key point that the ATA itself made sure to quote a speaker mentioning it before the conference even started:

Speaker Joe Peterson, CEO of Specialists on Call, said: “In 2013 telemedicine started passing many ‘tipping points,’ in multiple industry segments, making it a true moment in time to found, scale …read more…

Mobile Bandwidth: A Consideration for Telemedicine and mHealth

no network

An oddly under-scrutinized aspect of telehealth, telemedicine, and mHealth, is summed up by the last of those three terms: mHealth. The “m” stands for “mobile,” and mobility requires telehealth services to be rendered over the most broadly available data networks, which usually are not the fastest.

Although this is usually taken for granted with rural areas, this is also often true of heavily populated ones. For example, I live in a fairly populous suburb. However, due to geography, our coverage map for one of the main carriers in the area (mine!) looks like this:

3g v 4g nearby

The salmon and red areas are 4G coverage and the purple is 3G (the light purple is actually data roaming!).  I repeat, this is not a rural area, although it does border on an undeveloped area.  It has been heavily populated for several decades.

For any mHealth / telemedicine deployment to be useful, it will need to be fully functional at 3G network speeds.  This ensures the widest reach to potential patients as well as the most stability for any use while in motion.  I’ll provide an example of each:

First, imagine a household where one of the occupants has a chronic condition and has agreed to use videocalls for check-ins.  As of 2012, the United States has roughly 75 active mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 people.1  This could be as high as 84 this year (2014)2, indicating that even low-income families are potentially indicated as having access to mobile broadband.

The follow up question is, do they have access to higher speed 4G networks?  Do they live in neighborhoods with crowded capacity?  Do their devices have the capability to provide the quality of connection required to avoid a trip to the hospital? (Especially costly in the case of rural/distant patients, but applicable to urban/suburban life as well.)  Even if their usage plan includes 4G LTE/WiMax, do they actually have that reception?  Even I don’t have 4G access at home.

The second example may be illustrated by terrestrial ambulances or air medical services (helicopters, etc.).  If EMTs are in communication with a hospital, sharing potentially life-saving visuals and data, then keeping the call from dropping and maintaining the quality of the call can be extremely important–even when buildings and mountains and such block the towers of the speedier networks.

Hospitals, clinics, ambulance services, in fact, any organization looking to improve patient outcomes and streamline their ability to provide service by use of video communication, should keep in mind that the solution they try needs to have a track record of functioning on 3G.  It needs to be a truly mobile solution, that can perform on a number of devices in that network environment, and under any number of conditions within that environment.

ambulance in flood

  1.  “Active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012”, Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
  2. ICT Facts and Figures 2014“, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union.
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VeaMea named “Best Practice” by SAMHSA

River Edge resized 600  SAMHSA resized 600

River Edge Behavioral Health has been praised by SAMHSA for its forward-thinking, efficient and effective use of technology.

One critical component of their strategy is using VeaMea as a telehealth platform to:

  • Increase access
  • Reduce physician turnover
  • Improve productivity
River Edge transformed their delivery of service.  You can too.
Learn more about River Edge.
Contact Us to find out how you can join them in the ranks of innovators.
Update: You can learn more by downloading our free River Edge Case Study.
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Telepsychiatry Cuts Hospital Admissions and Saves Money

I TOLD YOU SO!

veamea_telepsychiatry-resized-600

Almost 4 months ago, I wrote that TelePsychiatry is the Killer App for Video Conferencing.  It may put a kink in Lucy’s walk-in practice, but the benefits to the rest of society are clear.  (And if Lucy would like to Expand Her Presence, there is a place she can go)

Who should come along to back me up, but the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).  Their July 2011 issue of ACEP News includes an article titled “ED Telepsychiatry Cuts Admissions, Saves Money.”

The article tells the story of implementations in South Carolina and includes a commentary by the vice chair for Emergency Medicine at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Pennsylvania where a telepsychiatry program is also in place.

The following data are from the South Carolina study:

  • Admission rates (33% lower)
  • Length of Emergency Department stays (25% shorter)
  • Outpatient follow-up rates (nearly 4x higher)
  • Cost (29% lower for Medicaid patients, 38% lower for private insurance)
  • Patient satisfaction: 80%
  • Physician Satisfaction: 90%
  • Physicians who believe they are more productive using telepsychiatry: 75%

Per the study, “the patient receives a higher quality of care, and the hospitals have reduced costs.”

WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE ?

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6 Learnings from the American Telemedicine Association Annual

VeaMea (now swy|me) visited the American Telemedicine Association Annual Conference in Tampa this past week.  It was an interesting conference with thousands of participants, and hundreds of vendors.

We had some interesting conversations with people who are, or are going to be, practicing Telemedicine as well as a variety of support organizations.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Rural Healthcare Telecom Subsidies — The Universal Services Fund has $400 million in telecom subsidies to give away each year.  They have only been Read more

Top 5 Reasons TelePsychiatry is a Killer App for Video Conferencing

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a division of Health and Human Services (HHS) has a database where you can search for information about shortages of access to primary care, dental and mental health services.  A quick search for mental health services reveals a significant shortage in almost every area across the nation.

telepsych-video-conferencing-resized-600

 

 

Top 5 Reasons Why TelePsychiatry is a Killer App for Video Conferencing

1) Mental health services means different Read more

TeleHealth Technology – Better care at lower cost

Ever wish you could wave a magic wand and reduce healthcare expenses ?  You don’t need to, TeleHealth / TeleMedicine technology is already working to do just that ! (I wonder if Congress reads our blog…)

Software video collaboration, video conferencing and web conferencing technology are being used to improve the efficiency of medical education and service delivery…TODAY.

How ?

  • Medical residents attend classes via web conference so they can spend more time in the hospital and be available for patient emergencies (they also don’t waste time driving to and from classes when they could be sleeping!)
  • Rural hospital nurses attend …read more…