Healthcare efficacy data which suggests that telehealth is at least equivalent to face-to-face meetings with medical staff for some conditions (see for example the research article “Clinical Decision Support System Based Virtual Telemedicine”.) Such studies show how cost-effective in a healthcare organization or system, as well as improving the continuity of care for patients.
Despite the U.S. being among the ten richest countries in the world, with a GDP per capita of $57,293, the government is seeking ways to reduce costs upon the healthcare system and telehealth (or telemedicine) provides a means to do so.
A digitally driven form of healthcare
Telehealth refers to the distribution of health-related services, together with medical information, through electronic and telecommunication technological means. The primary aim is to facilitate a long distance patient and clinician contact and care service. This enables discussions and the issuing of advice, reminders and education; plus monitoring.
One common medium for telehealth is video conference technology. However, the scope can embrace robotic surgery and the collection of data via digital monitoring instruments.
Telehealth for Medicare and Medicaid
With the new U.S. planned initiative, which stems from a proposal issues by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, certain telehealth and telemedicine services should be made available for Medicare and Medicaid services. The aim is to establish services during the course of 2018, with a focus on remote patient monitoring.
The wider proposal is based on several pilots. To date, forty-eight state Medicaid programs now have some type of telemedicine coverage. Included within these schemes is the connection of remote, rural doctors to the resources of big city hospitals and services for patients that have trouble with mobility. The evaluated successes are leading to an expansion of variants of telehealth.
What does telehealth offer U.S. patients?
In terms of obvious interests, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is a telehealth provider. The idea has received a positive response from the Consumer Technology Association (which is a standards and trade organization for the consumer electronics industry). A spokesperson for the group, Gary Shapiro said: “Connected health is changing our lives for the better – helping us care for our loved ones from far away, track our own wellness and work with our doctors more closely than ever.”
He adds: “The field of medicine is evolving rapidly, led by remarkable innovations in health information technologies and remote health care services. These changes are already disrupting the current models of health care delivery and the established payment framework.”
These comments appear to be aboutn to be rooted into public policy and the roll out of telehealth in the U.S. on a wider scale.