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The Future Of Telemedicine Doesn’t Depend On Health Plans Anymore

Posted on December 6, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger 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.

For as long as I can remember, the growth of telemedicine depended largely on overcoming two obstacles: bandwidth and reimbursement. Now, both are on the verge of melting away.

One, the availability of broadband, has largely been addressed, though there are certainly areas of the US where broadband is harder to get than it should be. Having lived through a time when the very idea of widely available consumer broadband blew our minds, it’s amazing to say this, but we’ve largely solved the problem in the United States.

The other, the willingness of insurers to pay for telemedicine services, is still something of an issue and will be for a while. However, it won’t stay that way for too much longer in my opinion.

Yes, over the short term it still matters whether a telemedicine visit is going to be funded by a payer –after all, if a clinician is going to deliver services somebody has to pay for their time. But there are good reasons why this will not continue to be an issue.

For one thing, as the direct-to-consumer models have demonstrated, patients are increasingly willing to pay for telemedical care out-of-pocket. Customers of sites like HealthTap and Teladoc won’t pay top dollar for such services, but it seems apparent that they’re willing to engage with and stay interested in solving certain problems this way (such as, for example, getting a personal illness triaged and treated without having to skip work the next day).

Another way telemedicine services have changed, from what I can see, is that health systems and hospitals are beginning to integrate it with their other service lines as a routine part of delivering care. Virtual consults are no longer this “weird” thing they do on the side, but a standard approach to addressing common health problems, especially chronic illness.

Then, of course, there’s the most important factor taking control of telemedicine away from health plans: the need to use it to achieve population health management goals. While its use is still a little bit lopsided at present, as healthcare organizations aren’t sure how to optimize telehealth initiatives, eventually they’ll get the formula right, and that will include using it as a way of tying together a seamless value-based delivery network.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that without the reach, flexibility and low cost of telehealth delivery, building out population health management schemes might be almost impossible in the future. Having specialists available to address urgent matters and say, for example, rural areas will be critical on the one hand, while making specialists need for chronic care (such as endocrinologists) accessible to unwell urban patients with travel concerns.

Despite the growing adoption of telemedicine by providers, it may be 5 to 10 years or so before it has its fullest impact, a period during which health plans gradually accept that the growth of this technology isn’t up to them anymore. But the day will without a doubt arise soon enough that “telemedicine” is just known as medicine.

Healthcare Is Going to Benefit from the Confluence of Consumer Technologies

Posted on December 28, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Next week is the annual CES conference in Las Vegas. It’s a unique event that brings together 170,000 people across 4 of the largest conference venues in the world. It’s enormous and a little hard to process.

Having attended for the last ~11 years, it’s been amazing to see the pace of progress with so many technologies. Remember that it’s only been about 9 years since the iPhone was launched. While smartphones and tablets have gotten so much better over this time period a whole slew of other consumer technologies have as well.

Looking forward to CES, it’s amazing to see the development of things like: 3D Printing, Virtual Reality, Augmented reality, IoT (Internet of Things…or as I like to call it Smart Everything), voice recognition, AI, robotics, sensors, etc etc etc. It’s an exciting time to be in an industry where so many things are developing so quickly.

Maybe I’m skewed because I’m a blogger in healthcare, but it’s really amazing how healthcare sits at the confluence of so many of these technologies. The overlap that’s going to happen between augmented reality, 3D printing, AI, sensors and new things we barely understand is going to be extraordinary.

I recently saw a 3D printing conference for healthcare. While 3D printing is very exciting for healthcare, it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting if we didn’t have all of the other innovations in cameras, storage, data sharing, virtual reality, etc. We needed evolutions and innovations in all of these spaces for the other technologies to really work well.

I’ve often said that the most interesting things in healthcare happen at the intersections. I think that’s particularly true in the digital health space. As I head to CES, I’ll be watching for this type of crossover of technologies. I think this year we’re going to see a lot of companies utilizing multiple technologies in ways we’d never seen previously.

Virtual Reality and Treating Dizziness

Posted on July 20, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Mark Cuban has a pretty amazing post that talks about his experience as an active, engaged patient in his care and how he found virtual reality helped him achieve the desired relief from dizziness that he desired. If you’ve stayed up with the virtual reality space, you’ll find this quite intriguing since virtual reality is often condemned because of the dizziness it causes. Obviously, what you’re watching on VR matters a lot.

Go ahead and read Mark’s full post to see his experience as an active patient trying to deal with his Dizziness. We’ll be here when you get back. You can also watch this video he made:

It’s pretty amazing how active Mark Cuban was in his care. Sure, he has the money to be as active as possible. He literally was looking at buying a massive medical device or even investing in a business to bring the treatment he wanted to Dallas. That’s extraordinary and something that most of us can’t do as patients.

For those who haven’t read the whole story, Mark Cuban was getting treatment in California that was helping him with his dizziness from Dizziland.com. However, he couldn’t stay in California to finish the treatment. That’s when he discovered that the Samsung VR set he had might be the solution to creating a portable solution for him. Turns out, it did the trick for him. As a true businessman, he’s now working with the company to commercialize the product.

To be clear, this device setup is not FDA approved. It’s something that Mark found and tried that worked for him. We won’t be seeing doctors prescribing this for a while to come. Although, it will be interesting to see if and how solutions like this do go to market. Will they need to be FDA approved? Will they be regulated? How much will they cost? Lots of interesting questions since the videos and technology to watch them are quite cheap.

I love the story of technology making an impact on someone’s health for good. I also love seeing an active patient taking a serious interest in their care. Although, it’s amazing how a billionaire’s interest in their health is similar to any person with a major health issue.

360 Degree View of Cancer Surgery Broadcast Live in Virtual Reality

Posted on April 20, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This week I’ve had virtual reality and video on my mind as I’ve attended the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) conference in Las Vegas. One of the main topics at the show has been the evolution of 360 degree video recording and virtual reality. The merging of those two technologies is fascinating to watch and is still in its infancy.

As I’ve been thinking through these technologies for healthcare, it was ironic that I’d find the news that a cancer surgery was broadcast live online using 360 degree virtual reality video for the first time. Here’s a short video describing the technology and their efforts to use this to educate medical students:

Lest people think this is some super expensive technology that will never make it to healthcare, one of the companies announced a 360 degree video camera at the conference that only cost $600. That’s an incredible price and will continue to go down.

I’m excited to see this technology finding a place in healthcare. Plus, we’re just at the start.

Samsung Invests Big in Virtual Reality at Facebook’s F8 Conference

Posted on April 15, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This post is sponsored by Samsung Business. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Ever since the CES conference earlier this year, I’ve been extremely interested in the virtual reality and augmented reality space. There’s a lot of potential for virtual reality in healthcare including in: training, diagnosing and treatment. Plus, I always remember that the best use cases for technology are often ones we can’t even imagine because of our own biases and constrained thinking. However, as we invest more in virtual reality, we’ll discover even better ways to apply the technology to healthcare.

This week Samsung and Facebook made a huge investment in virtual reality when they gave away a new Samsung Gear VR Headset and custom Galaxy smartphone to the 2600 developers attending Facebook’s F8 developer conference. That’s a lot of developers that will start building on top of this new virtual reality platform. I’ve already seen my healthcare developer friend post on social media about her kit. I’ll be interested to see what she creates.
Samsung Gear VR - Healthcare
I’ve certainly heard many of the naysayers talk about virtual reality. They argue that the early versions are expensive, require powerful computers, are tethered, require headsets and can cause headaches. These are all challenges, but most of them will be fixed as the technology evolves and matures. Plus, being healthcare I found the comment around headaches really interesting. I got headaches and eye strain from Google Glass, but I’ve never had an issue with virtual reality giving me a headache. It’s definitely something to watch though.

These challenges aside, I’ve found my experiences with virtual reality to be absolutely immersive. I totally lost myself in the experience and almost forgot the world around me. As I think back on that experience, I did realize that the key to an amazing experience was compelling content. If I was watching or doing something in a virtual world that wasn’t interesting, then you would have definitely lost me. Let that be a lesson to everyone in healthcare. You only get one chance to make a first impression on healthcare. Be sure that whatever healthcare virtual reality use case you’re working on has really compelling content. If you don’t, you’ll burn a whole generation of decision makers on virtual reality.

With this in mind, it’s going to be just as important for us to watch the virtual reality content creation space as the virtual reality display devices themselves. Can we make virtual reality content in a cost effective way? How hard will it be to create compelling content? Will the quality of the content be good enough to apply it to medicine?

These are all open questions I’ll be watching in the virtual reality space. However, given the impressive progressive we’ve seen over just the past couple years, I’m really excited by the possibilities. Healthcare better prepare for virtual reality based training and education. Soon enough your doctor will be diagnosing you using virtual reality and possibly from a remote destination. It’s not hard to imagine many treatment options being made available in a virtual reality environment.

Virtual reality in healthcare has some really incredible opportunities. I’m excited to see such a huge investment in virtual reality by both Samsung and Facebook. A lot of that innovation is going to trickle down into healthcare.

For more content like this, follow Samsung on Insights, Twitter, LinkedIn , YouTube and SlideShare.