This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

March 11, 2015

Telemedicine Gaining in Importance

Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technologies to provide clinical healthcare at a distance. It helps eliminate distance barriers and can improve access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in distant rural or remote communities.

Some of the teaching hospitals in the United States have used telemedicine as a way to expand their brand and reputation without investing in bricks and mortar.

Highlighting Four University Health Systems

The University of Mississippi Medical Center's Center for Telehealth will connect the hospital to some 165 sites, including other hospitals, clinics, places of employment, and schools. The state has emerged as a leader in policy and implementation of telehealth. Thought to be the biggest and most comprehensive in the world, Avera Health's South Dakota-based health system has 31 hospitals. Known as eCare, its telemedicine operations cover an eight-state area of the US, equivalent to the size of France and Germany combined. Avera's services include eICU, eEmergency, ePharmacy, eConsults for specialty care, and eLTC, or long-term care.

Pennsylvania-based Geisinger Health System was among the early adopters of telehealth. In 2012 alone, it found this technology cut its readmission rates by an impressive 44 percent. Focused strongly on a teleICU, Geisinger found that telemonitoring for heart failure patients saved about $216, or 11 percent, per patient per month.

St. Louis-based Mercy Health's facility system constructed a telehealth facility in May of last year, investing $50 million into the effort. The center houses about 300 physicians, nurses, specialists, researchers and support staff for 24/7 audio and video services. Mercy estimates the center will manage more than 3 million telehealth visits in its first five years. Mercy's telemedicine efforts are robust and cut across eight different areas of complex care including TeleICU, TeleStroke, Pediatric Telecardiology, TeleSepsis, Teleradiology, Telepathology, Nurse-on-call, and home monitoring.

Latin American programs serve remote communities

There are two notable international programs, one in Mexico and one serving Brazil. The Mexican Space Agency and the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí are developing a pilot program in telehealth that will include the use of space telecommunications technology. Duke University's Global Health Institute is researching the effects of serving Brazil's hard-to-reach remote and rural communities.

It is clear that telehealth saves lives and money. The speed with which we can embrace these new technologies will determine the magnitude of money and lives we can save. We can also significantly affect the quality of life for seniors who prefer to age-in-place in their own homes---disrupting the exponential growth curve of the institutions providing a "continuum of care" (from assisted living to skilled nursing care). ###

Special thanks to Med City News for bringing this topic to our attention: http://medcitynews.com/2015/02/five-health-systems-making-best-use-telemedicine/>To read the full article, click here.


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