The telehealth industry is accelerating at a dizzying pace. Experts predict, among other things, that diagnostic tools by remote control will be approved by the FDA; chronic health condition management will be handled via telehealth venues instead of constant in-office visits; patient outcomes will be monitored via telehealth prior to office appointments; and complete organizations, such as the Veteran’s Administration, will buy into telehealth platforms for their millions of patients. Even though telehealth platform technology is still just a few years old, it is already making inroads into traditional medical technology and tradition.
I recently spoke with Jackie Arnett Elnahar RD, Esq., a registered dietitian and an attorney. She is CEO and co-founder of TelaDietitian, a premier telehealth solution for medical nutrition therapy consultations that has raised $120k from 9 investors since 2014. I asked her to explain more about the telehealth industry and why it’s getting alot of investors’ attention right now.
What exactly is this platform revolution?
Jackie told me, “In a nutshell, it includes diagnostic platforms and connected devices, both stationary and mobile. These currently incipient platforms will be able to diagnose and treat a variety of common disease and injury symptoms that currently require a customer to visit his or her clinic in person. The genius of this new approach can be seen in the fact that illness and accident are no respecter of timetables and schedules — they can occur in the middle of the night or the middle of a vacation!”
Telehealth platforms are expected to halve recidivism among recently released patients who are in danger of a sudden relapse or complication from their treatment/surgery. Doctors, surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare providers will be able to monitor patients in their homes to make sure they are recovering properly and being provided with the proper medical and pharmaceutical support. If something starts to go amiss, a medical professional will catch it in real time instead of waiting for the patient to limp back into the clinic in a painful panic.
Telehealth platforms as a leveraging tool
In addition to streamlining and improving the doctor/patient relationship, telehealth platforms will play a significant role in reducing the amount of Medicare/Medicaid fraud and confusion that currently is costing hospitals, doctors, and patients millions of dollars. The instant relay of billing information and medical procedures will insure that the proper amount of insurance coverage is arranged for. This will work equally well with private insurance companies as well.
The shortage of trained and licensed doctors and nurses in many parts of the country will become of much less concern when telehealth platforms are up and running nationwide — a patient in North Dakota where the nearest clinic is a hundred miles away will be able to consult with competent medical personnel who are experts in his or her particular medical condition, without having to travel long distances.
This also means that when the telehealth system is up and running that cost overruns should be minimized throughout the healthcare industry. “When diagnosis and treatment options can take place through the internet the cost to both the patient and to the medical provider will drop significantly,” says Arnett.
Health systems such as insurers and hospitals will find that telehealth will inevitably lead to more outsourcing as patients demand immediate and informed answers to their questions and concerns when signed in to a telehealth network. This is expected to take healthcare technology to the next level in less time than previously thought. A team of doctors, including specialists, can be instantly brought together online for a diagnosis and treatment schedules. While not eliminating the need for face-to-face medical examinations and interactions, telehealth platforms will make clinics and hospitals, doctors and nurses, both more accountable and more accessible in the coming years.
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