Telehealth, BYOD Gain Momentum In 2013

Posted on January 4, 2013 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

I’ll be honest — I’m always a bit skeptical when I read on health IT trends appearing in a general-interest corporate IT magazine.  Ours is such a tricky business that the nuances often escape my brethren in the journalistic field, unless of course they specialize in the health IT business. But in this case, an eWeek piece has delivered some useful information, and even caught me off guard a bit.

The piece contends that BYOD issues and the use of telehealth are likely to shape the year in health IT:

BYOD:  Bring-your-own-device problems aren’t unique to healthcare by any means, but they’re certainly become a particularly high-profile issue in healthcare.

In the piece, eWeek quotes Dennis Schmuland, chief health strategy  officer for U.S. Health and Life Sciences at Microsoft, who argues that BYOD costs, including privacy, security and licensing for virtualization of software are so high that BYOD may actually be costing organizations big money. Good (and interesting) point.

Certainly, healthcare organizations can’t afford to let that keep happening in 2013, and this year, solutions are likely to emerge, Schmuland told the magazine.

Telehealth:  While they’re in their early stages right now, telehealth services such as American Well’s Online Care are likely to get a stronger footing this year, the eWeek article suggests.

Lynne Dunbrack, program director of connected health IT strategies at IDC Health Insights, notes that consumers are getting used to having videoconferencing at their fingertips, given the extent to which webcams are now embedded in laptops and video chat on mobile phones.

Now that they’re accustomed to videoconferencing, they’ll soon want to use this capability for telehealth visits with doctors, eWeek reports:

Sending a blood pressure reading and seeing a doctor online could be more convenient than taking off from work, Dunbrack noted.

“If you can just go in and have these quick visits, people would be more apt to make these appointments and keep them, and organizations will start to experiment with these services,” said Dunbrack.

In all candor, I think both Schmuland and Dunbrack are a bit ahead of the market. I doubt that we’ll see a huge expansion of telehealth this year, though there may be some additional uptake. And as for BYOD, I’m not expecting to see any comprehensive solution that providers can affordably adopt this year; after all, trends are still shifting and there’s tons of moving parts to consider. But I do think we will see some progress in both areas.  All told, the two have offered some useful fodder for thinking about 2013.