The spectrum of opportunities for telehealth and mobile heath, or mHealth is growing. Both are going to have big impact on improving healthcare quality, cost, and access. The state of telehealth and mHealth was discussed at great length at today’s Healthcare Technology Innovation Forum at UCSF.
“The biggest impact of telehealth and mHealth is going to be on quality,” said Dr. Yan Chow, Director of Kaiser Permanente (KP) Information Technology’s Innovation & Advanced Technology Group. “The reason is because telehealth gives us a way to collect data that we didn’t have before. It gives us visibility into the lives of patients.”
Incidentally, Dr. Chow shares that KP has over 120 pilots in telehealth today. He shared: Mobile is going to be a huge trend, it has surpassed the PC in many populations. Mobile is going to provide visibility (from provider to consumer), as well as connectivity. Visibility is really important because there is really a huge difference between what people declare they’re doing with what they actually do. Today, with a smart phone, you can track people and find out what people are doing.
Marty Coressel, CEO of Telsano, a health informatics and medical device startup, said that, “Cost is going to be hugely impacted, but will likely trail. Access is going to be the most impacted, initially, especially, if we look at it from a public health or population management perspective.”
“We need to be able to start scale some of our health initiatives out faster across the country. Some examples we’re starting to see are screen devices in retail stores and kiosks — these are going to drive some awareness. And as access becomes more prevalent, we’re more engaged with it — the level of quality will go up and costs will go down,” Coresell added.
But no doubt, implementation of telehealth and mHealth technologies come with their share of challenges and headaches.
“Mobile health is one of the fastest growing area, in terms of adoption, not only on the consumer but also the enterprise side,” shared Tapan Mehta, Global Healthcare Lead at Cisco Systems. “It’s going to continue to evolve. But the real question is as we develop new applications, we have to look at ease of use. Technology is only as good as how easy it is. If you have technology that’s going to complicate the basic interaction of patient, you’re not going to see that adoption. While mobile is great — is it really going to simplify the ease of use in the continuum of care?”
“In mobile health, there’s a natural risk. It comes down to liability. You’re going to make an assessment of a patient via a video conference — the provider has to take the risk of being able to provide the appropriate assessment without that physical touch — it can be really complicated, especially now that we’re also moving into mobile devices,” said Jeff Russell, Director at Vidyo, a provider of personal telepresence solutions. “HIPAA, security, and privacy are challenges too.”
Dr. Chow also talked at length about lack of reimbursement, inconsistent outcomes, ineffective metrics, workflow compatibility, scalability, integration, regulatory, and legal challenges. He stresses though that the issues are much bigger than just building a business model out of telemedicine.
To be continued …