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Health IT Infrastructure Needs to Support Future of Telemedicine

Remote patient monitoring devices are growing alongside telemedicine as remote care becomes a cost-effective technology desired by patients.

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- All signs indicate that the role of telemedicine in care delivery is set for tremendous growth over the next decade

Telemedicine and remote monitoring are growing in healthcare

Two recent reports from Research and Markets anticipate an expansion of the telemedicine and remote patient monitoring device markets by 2025 as healthcare organizations take more fully to value-based care.

In the first report, authors predict the telemedicine market to reach $113.1 billion in ten years as patients become more inclined to seek self-care for chronic conditions. Patients, particularly in rural areas, are already benefitting from improve access to providers and quality care as a result of the technology. What’s more, a telemedicine-friendly regulatory environment should also contribute to its growth.

For healthcare organizations, report authors indicate that telemedicine saves institutions money by reducing emergency room visits and hospital admissions — these cuts in cost are appealing to organizations and driving up telemedicine adoption.

Telemedicine also assists interoperability efforts by offering a channel for different healthcare providers to communicate on the same platform, the report found.

Going into 2017, telemedicine is a top priority for many state medical boards. A recent survey conducted by the federation of State Medical Boards found that telemedicine was at the top of the list of medical board concerns.

Healthcare organizations are preparing for the future of telemedicine by listing it as a top priority, however organizations must have an infrastructure ready to support these initiatives.

Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri had a failing telemedicine program that was suffering because the technology they were using (e.g., cellular connections, consumer-grade MiFi devices) were not providing strong enough connections to support the video needed for successful telemedicine.

“What Children's Mercy recognized was that when you are able to bring healthcare to a patient’s home, not only is it more convenient for the patient, but it’s also more cost effective for the hospital because they don’t have to use up space in the hospital to provide that care,” Ken Hosac, vice president of business development at Cradlepoint told HITInfrastructure.com. “When a clinician goes out there, a specialist back in Kansas City can be viewing in real-time the testing the clinician is doing in the home. They have audio and video where they can ask the patient’s questions and provide healthcare remotely.”

Children’s Mercy was able to rehab their telemedicine program and delivers remote care to patients who are unable to conveniently travel to one of the locations for care.  

The second Research and Markets report predicts that the remote patient monitoring device market is expected to reach $1.9 billion by 2025. While its total value is significantly lower than the telemedicine predictions, remote patient monitoring devices are a much newer piece of telemedicine that is not nearly as widespread.

Report authors advise that remote patient monitoring devices are valuable to healthcare organizations because of their ability to monitor various chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and cancer. These devices are designed to manage, evaluate, notify, intervene and modify the treatment plan as required.

“Increasing incidences of cardiovascular diseases, rising geriatric population base and the growing demand for independent and healthy living by them are high impact rendering drivers for remote patient monitoring devices market,” report authors found.

The report emphasises the need for health IT infrastructure improvements to successfully support remote patient monitoring devices.

Remote patient monitoring devices provide a continuous stream of data that could greatly benefit patient care by allowing analytical insight into chronic conditions. However an organizations needs to be able to structure and process this data so it can be used effectively. Remote patient monitoring devices also require a secure and continuous connection to a healthcare organization’s network.

Remote patient monitoring technology and telemedicine are potentially keys to achieving lowered operating costs along with providing patients with more valuable care, which makes the technology appealing for both IT decision-makers and patients.

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