I just returned from the American Telemedicine Association annual conference, the largest international conference whose focus is on telehealth. The conference brings together healthcare professionals and industry leaders with the mission of transforming healthcare while ensuring quality, equity, and affordability.
I was struck in particular by one presenter, a noted author on societal trends, who said we have reached a tipping point in our existence where greater than 50% of what we do is carried out in "cyberspace." Think about it. Among the things now carried out in virtual fashion are banking, communication, networking, dating and relationships, schooling and education, working, paying bills, and shopping for anything you can imagine. This tipping point is also present in healthcare and growing at a rapid pace. For example, we now access our individual health records online, and in some instances communicate via email with our doctor's offices. In rural and under-served areas, telemedicine has served for a number of years now as a vital link to advanced healthcare for conditions such as stroke, dermatology, and mental health problems. Would it surprise you to know some surgeries can be done remotely by doctors utilizing computers and robotic equipment?
A bit closer to home, you likely are familiar with the Fitbit or other "wearable technology" that enables you to track a number of your own health and fitness parameters. Why not use such technology to plug-in to your doctor's office and improve your health? The answer is, we already do! We are currently able to provide remote care via devices that can monitor numerous health parameters such as weight, blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm, and blood sugar. We have remote stethoscopes to listen to hearts and lungs, and a variety of visual aids to look into ears, noses, mouths, and to examine rashes. In addition to the potential for remote surgeries, there are other Star-Trek type devices under development that will eventually allow us to evaluate more complex health parameters remotely.
For now, we are just dipping our toes intothis next frontier of medicine. We are just getting used to the idea of "seeing" our doctor virtually, via telemedicine in an online encounter. It is clear that to balance the demands of escalating healthcare costs and diminished supply, novel efficiencies such as telemedicine will need to be adopted. So what can you do to get more familiar with and promote this next frontier? Let me give you some concrete action items:
Gotowww.AHonDemand.com, explorethe site (including back issues of this blog!), and learn about how we provide urgent care visits online.
Registerwith AHonDemand (it takes 2 minutes!) so when you have a healthcare need, all you need to do is connect with one of our providers.
Discusswith your doctor's office their plans for integrating telemedicine into their practice.
Askyour friends and family what they know about telemedicine. If you've used it already, tell others about it. If they've used it, ask them about their experience. You will likely get great reviews from them.
Inquirewith your corporate HR manager or health insurance carrier what their plans arefor integration of telemedicine services into their healthcare benefits plan.
Discusstelemedicine with your government representatives. You likely know someone from school, church, or your neighborhood who works for the government or in public policy. Leverage those relationships to ensure the benefits of telemedicine are on their radar.
Use it!Try it out when you need care!
Popular posts from this blog
Do you remember the long standing news program 60 Minutes? If you've never seen it, you should. If you have, you probably remember the venerable Andy Rooney, who concluded every episode with commentary on a topic of interest. He would always begin his segment by posing a question to the viewing audience by asking them "Did'ya ever wonder..." followed by a witty 5 minute piece. Well, I recently did a telemedicine consultation on Answer Health on Demand that really made me wonder how many patients wonder about various "simple" health complaints. The patient was concerned about a blistering rash and thought the fluid in them was "infecting" further, causing more of a rash. After looking at the rash, I was able to determine that it was most likely poison ivy. I reassured the patient that the fluid in the blisters would not cause more poison ivy rash and that the only way to get more rash was to get exposed to the oil from the poison ivy plant. Exposure…
"Winter, spring, summer or fall... All you need to do is call...And I'll be there, yes I will..." Lyrics to one of my favorite songs, performed by both James Taylor and Carole King, could have been written to describe what we do in the world of telemedicine and emergency medicine. Let me back up a few steps to provide the connection. Do we have more than the four seasons we enjoy yearly in Michigan? If you ask an emergency physician, we have a fifth: Trauma Season. And we're just settling into it as you read this. As a board certified emergency physician, I completed a residency after medical school specializing in the emergent stabilization of accidents, injuries, and severe acute illnesses. Approximately 30% of the 140 million ER visits this year will be a result of some type of traumatic injury or accident. Fortunately, many such injuries are relatively minor and AHonDemand telemedicine is a convenient and safe way for these to be evaluated. After 20 years, I've…
But, can it really? A play on words of the often repeated phrase "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," could a flower a day be enough to lift some out of depression or keep others from needing antidepressant medication? Researchers at Rutgers University think so. As first reported in the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology in 2005, researchers demonstrated scientifically what we intuitively already know: that flowers make us happy. The research showed that flowers are indeed a natural mood elevator, that they decrease stress levels, and improve emotional health. Moreover, results revealed that the benefits were not only immediate or when one was in the presence of the flowers. Improved mood, emotional reactions, social behavior, and memory were also demonstrated to be longer term effects. Is it just a coincidence, then, that the growth of new plants and flowers that accompanies the lifting of winter signals another phenomenon that we also intuitively know: that of "sprin…