When it comes to combining personal health with the convenience of mobile devices, what do smartphone users really want? A recent study suggests that people want to be fully engaged online, including accessing their health records and communicating with their healthcare providers—all from their phones and tablets. It’s a great idea in theory, but can everything actually fit into one application? Read more
The MassGeneral Hospital for Children Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) has found two intriguing uses for mobile video conferencing: comforting anxious families and consulting physicians at home.
Sometimes, parents can’t be at their child’s bedside. While the hospital strives to make visiting family members comfortable with in-room beds and desks, they help reduce absent parents’ anxiety by loaning them tablet devices. With secure mobile video conferencing, parents can see, hear, and interact with their children, physicians, and nurses—in essence, “being there” without actually being there. Read more
For common ailments—such as earaches, rashes, or sprains—is a visit to the doctor really necessary? Thanks to telemedicine kiosks, the answer may soon be a resounding “No.”
In recent months, telemedicine kiosks have begun appearing across the country in pilot programs. These self-contained booths are bringing doctor consults into retail pharmacies, workplaces, and even city halls, making it easier and cheaper for individuals to receive health care for non-emergency needs, especially during nights and weekends. Read more
Is a professional-level camera required for on-the-go telemedicine consults? The rise of healthcare using mobile devices—known as mhealth—is leading to questions about whether the images taken with smartphones can be trusted for accurate clinical diagnoses. Read more
Patients in rural areas and with limited transportation may welcome telemedicine, but what about the doctors?
It appears that physicians everywhere are also embracing this technology. A recent nationwide poll, conducted by QuantiaMD and American Well, reveals that 57 percent of primary care physicians are interested and willing to conduct telemedicine visits with their patients (1).
To better understand this response, let’s examine the context. As revealed by the survey, doctors are spending increasing time on non-reimbursable phone and email communications with patients. The average family doctor devotes nearly 4 hours per week on phone calls and emails, and each phone call alone costs roughly $20 of the physician’s time.
In this situation, it makes sense to replace non-reimbursable activities with billable telemedicine hours. Read more
We’ve all heard that “Time is Money,” but what about “Time is Brain”? When it comes to treating strokes, we already know that every minute really can make a difference in recovery. In this high-pressure environment, the health care industry eagerly embraces any proven innovation that can save crucial seconds in delivering treatment.
That’s where mobile stroke units come in. Recently named as the leader among the Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2015 by the Cleveland Clinic, mobile stroke ambulances are equipped with telemedicine units so stroke treatment can begin en route to the hospital.
Sounds great, but what’s the catch? Mobile stroke care only works if the technology works. Read more
In a merger of telehealth, mobile and cloud, Massachusetts-based swyMe is offering video conferencing in ambulances. The basic system includes three cameras in the vehicle: a standard “fish eye” 360º camera mounted high on the ambulance wall; a webcam attached to a touch screen monitor; and a handheld HDTV 720p IP camera.
The combination of the three affords a remote physician a view of the overall situation in the ambulance, the ability to communicate face-to-face with attending EMS workers and capability to zero in to close-up views of the patient. The system is HIPAA compliant and uses AES256 security.
swyMe COO Jeff Urdan explained that Read more
Yes, we’re perhaps a little late with this posting. However, we think the key takeaways (for us) from this year’s ATA (American Telemedicine Association) conference are important enough to immortalize anyway.
#1 We’re past the tipping point.
This was such a key point that the ATA itself made sure to quote a speaker mentioning it before the conference even started:
Speaker Joe Peterson, CEO of Specialists on Call, said: “In 2013 telemedicine started passing many ‘tipping points,’ in multiple industry segments, making it a true moment in time to found, scale …read more…
An oddly under-scrutinized aspect of telehealth, telemedicine, and mHealth, is summed up by the last of those three terms: mHealth. The “m” stands for “mobile,” and mobility requires telehealth services to be rendered over the most broadly available data networks, which usually are not the fastest.
Although this is usually taken for granted with rural areas, this is also often true of heavily populated ones. For example, I live in a fairly populous suburb. However, due to geography, our coverage map for one of the main carriers in the area (mine!) looks like this:
The salmon and red areas are 4G coverage and the purple is 3G (the light purple is actually data roaming!). I repeat, this is not a rural area, although it does border on an undeveloped area. It has been heavily populated for several decades.
For any mHealth / telemedicine deployment to be useful, it will need to be fully functional at 3G network speeds. This ensures the widest reach to potential patients as well as the most stability for any use while in motion. I’ll provide an example of each:
First, imagine a household where one of the occupants has a chronic condition and has agreed to use videocalls for check-ins. As of 2012, the United States has roughly 75 active mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 people.1 This could be as high as 84 this year (2014)2, indicating that even low-income families are potentially indicated as having access to mobile broadband.
The follow up question is, do they have access to higher speed 4G networks? Do they live in neighborhoods with crowded capacity? Do their devices have the capability to provide the quality of connection required to avoid a trip to the hospital? (Especially costly in the case of rural/distant patients, but applicable to urban/suburban life as well.) Even if their usage plan includes 4G LTE/WiMax, do they actually have that reception? Even I don’t have 4G access at home.
The second example may be illustrated by terrestrial ambulances or air medical services (helicopters, etc.). If EMTs are in communication with a hospital, sharing potentially life-saving visuals and data, then keeping the call from dropping and maintaining the quality of the call can be extremely important–even when buildings and mountains and such block the towers of the speedier networks.
Hospitals, clinics, ambulance services, in fact, any organization looking to improve patient outcomes and streamline their ability to provide service by use of video communication, should keep in mind that the solution they try needs to have a track record of functioning on 3G. It needs to be a truly mobile solution, that can perform on a number of devices in that network environment, and under any number of conditions within that environment.
- “Active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012”, Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
- “ICT Facts and Figures 2014“, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union.
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River Edge Behavioral Health has been praised by SAMHSA for its forward-thinking, efficient and effective use of technology.
One critical component of their strategy is using VeaMea as a telehealth platform to:
- Increase access
- Reduce physician turnover
- Improve productivity
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