Teladoc, founded in 2002, was initially slow to catch on. But after it grew revenues by 100% in 2013 and with sales set to double again this year, investors have come running: The company just closed a $50 million Series F fundraising round, bringing its total funding to roughly $100 million, according to CEO Jason Gorevic, who joined the company in 2009. (Gorevic even had to turn away investors as the recent funding round was oversubscribed, he says.)
This open, multidirectional sharing of knowledge and expertise creates new local capacity that didn't previously exist to treat devastating conditions like opioid addiction, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, HIV and hepatitis. In New Mexico, for example, the number of providers certified to treat opioid use disorder with buprenorphine has increased more than tenfold—from 36 in 2005 to 375 in 2014—following the launch of an ECHO for treating addiction.
The Health Resources Services Administration defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.
Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN): A common dial-up transmission path used for videoconferencing. ISDN services are on demand services where another IDSN based device is dialed, and per minuted charges are accumulated at a certain contracted rate. The site that places the call is then billed. The service is similar to the dialing features that come with making long distance phone calls. The person how initiates the call pays the bill. Connections of up to 128Kbps are permitted by ISDN.
Healthcare systems, physician practices, and skilled nursing facilities are using telemedicine to provide care more efficiently. Technologies that comes integrated with telemedicine software like electronic medical records, AI diagnosis and medical streaming devices, can better assist providers in diagnosis and treatment. The latter allows providers to monitor patients in real-time and adjust treatment plans when necessary. Ultimately, this leads to better patient outcomes.
Wyoming Medicaid conducted a study measuring engagement and post-birth outcomes for patients who used a mobile health app called, “Due Date Plus.” Use of the app, which allowed women to record pregnancy milestones, access medical services, and find symptom-related information was associated with increased compliance with prenatal care and decreased occurrence of babies born with low birth weights.
Referring to health information services, health care education, and health care services in a broad sense, the term telehealth is an all-encompassing one. In fact, telecare and telemedicine are generally covered within the broader scope of the term telehealth. Included in telehealth are health education services, remote monitoring of vital signs, ECG or blood pressure and remote doctor-patient consultations (telemedicine). Telehealth technology enables the remote diagnoses and evaluation of patients in addition to the ability to remote detection of fluctuations in the medical condition of the patient at home so that the medications or the specific therapy can be altered accordingly. It also allows for e-prescribe medications and remotely prescribed treatments.
Healthcare systems that adopt telemedicine solutions can attest that it requires a lot of time and money. Implementing a new system requires training and sometimes staff members find it difficult to welcome this change. Practice managers, nurses, physicians, and more have to learn how to utilize the system so that practices can see the benefits. Although telemedicine is expensive in the beginning, healthcare systems should see a positive return on investment over time due to more patients and less staff.
Telemedicine for intensive care unit (ICU) rounds: Telemedicine is also being used in some trauma ICUs to reduce the spread of infections. Rounds are usually conducted at hospitals across the country by a team of approximately ten or more people to include attending physicians, fellows, residents and other clinicians. This group usually moves from bed to bed in a unit discussing each patient. This aids in the transition of care for patients from the night shift to the morning shift, but also serves as an educational experience for new residents to the team. A new approach features the team conducting rounds from a conference room using a video-conferencing system. The trauma attending, residents, fellows, nurses, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists are able to watch a live video stream from the patient's bedside. They can see the vital signs on the monitor, view the settings on the respiratory ventilator, and/or view the patient's wounds. Video-conferencing allows the remote viewers two-way communication with clinicians at the bedside.
Remote Patient Monitoring involves the reporting, collection, transmission, and evaluation of patient health data through electronic devices such as wearables, mobile devices, smartphone apps, and internet-enabled computers. RPM technologies remind patients to weigh themselves and transmit the measurements to their physicians. Wearables and other electronic monitoring devices are being used to collect and transfer vital sign data including blood pressures, cardiac stats, oxygen levels, and respiratory rates.
Telemedicine was originally created as a way to treat patients who were located in remote places, far away from local health facilities or in areas of with shortages of medical professionals. While telemedicine is still used today to address these problems, it’s increasingly becoming a tool for convenient medical care. Today’s connected patient wants to waste less time in the waiting room at the doctor, and get immediate care for minor but urgent conditions when they need it.
Dr. Barnett attended the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine and completed his residency at Swedish Family Medicine. He has over 12 years of experience in practice and began working in Virtual Care over nine years ago. When Dr. Barnett is not providing Virtual Care, he works as a primary care provider for a local health system. He is fluent in Russian and proficient in Spanish. Outside of work, Dr. Barnett enjoys cooking, watching films, photography, and spending time with family.