Healthcare leaders across the globe recognize the power and potential of starting or growing a telemedicine presence, but these feelings are often tempered by caution. Bruising large-scale technological implementations in recent times, such as EMRs, have left many provider groups hesitant to face yet another expensive digital health solution that might further alter their workflows, scheduling, and billing procedures without a clear return on investment. Despite these concerns, there is broad consensus that telemedicine offers a powerful solution to access issues, chronic care management, and improving growth and market share capture. Achieving these tangible benefits requires more than just a purely technological solution – it necessitates a holistic approach that applies the technology to improve care delivery and increase cost savings.
The Fitness Wearable Fallacy
The fitness wearable industry is a frequently cited example of how digital health technology falls flat when it is not tied to measurable outcomes. These devices represent a big step in using real-time data to track personal health. Yet, the technology appears more impressive than the impact. Speaking at the Connected Health Symposium, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, vice provost for global initiatives and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, argued that fitness wearables simply do not produce an adequate return on investment for the user – a return defined by improved health from regular use.
Dr. Emmanuel describes seven steps that would better ensure that a digital health technology surpasses the idea phase and becomes an active change agent.
1. Engage patients in some way
2. Obtain consumer-level data
3. Find a reliable, secure means of transmitting data
4. Use data inside the healthcare system
5. Apply the information to create sustainable behavior change
6. Demonstrate how behavior change leads to health improvement
7. Save money so people will adopt the technology in the first place
Emmanuel’s argument gives perspective to the challenges of promoting greater technology use when trying to improve patient care and avoid unnecessary costs. Whereas fitness wearables stop at Step 3, a more comprehensive solution might hit all steps.
How Telemedicine Bridges the Gap of Digital Health Technology and Improved Outcomes
Telemedicine hits all of Emmanuel’s items. It engages patients, aggregates, transmits, and analyzes data, allows physicians to use data to alter treatment as necessary, and is cost effective. Furthermore, by using data appropriately to improve patient care, utilization will steadily increase – unlike what we see in the fitness wearable industry.
Patient engagement is central to how telemedicine achieves a holistic digital health solution. Telemedicine encourages patients to take a more active role in managing their own health. Whether you are applying telemedicine to your chronic care management program, or increasing patient access to primary and specialty care by building a virtual visit platform, you are making it easier and more convenient for patients to achieve better health outcomes.
Finding the best way to sustain telemedicine operations within larger organizational goals is challenging, and a simple technology solution might sound like an easy way out. A healthcare provider can invest loads of money into great technology, but they won’t be happy with the financial return if there isn’t a strategy for implementation and adoption to accompany that technology. When partnering with a telemedicine vendor, it is important to pick a technology that works with you, but it is equally as important to find a partner that will help you build a business strategy and market your telemedicine solution to your members and community.
Partnering with CareClix
The CareClix platform is an industry-leading technology solution, but our services (e.g., virtual learning platform; 24/7 call center; in-person training; billing verification; electronic prescribing) make us the only comprehensive solution in the market. We want to help you operationalize telemedicine and grow utilization. Partnering with CareClix will extend access, expand your reach, and give you a technology solution that will keep your patients healthy and support your bottom line.