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Paving the Way: Most Wired Hospitals for Telehealth

Posted by James Baker, Chief Medical Officer | October 2, 2018 |
James Baker, Chief Medical Officer

Today, measuring technology excellence is part of an overall strategy designed to improve patient care and hospital performance. Planning for excellence means appropriately leveraging technology tools to improve costs, streamline workflows, and improve patient outcomes.

That’s the idea behind the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) annual Most Wired survey. Each year the organization invites management technologists to complete their assessment of IT outcomes and best practices.

This year CHIME released their Most Wired list, but we noticed one thing is different – telemedicine is prominently featured as a best practice to emulate.

Telehealth, CHIME, and the AHA

CHIME is a national healthcare organization made up of more than 2,500 executive leaders in technology. They collaborate each year with the American Hospital Association (AHA) and their strategy arm, the Health Forum, to distribute the Most Wired results. The AHA is the national organization for hospitals, healthcare networks, and their patients, with more than 43,000 individual members and 5,000 hospitals represented within their ranks.

The most recent survey illustrates that these organizations are developing a stronger reliance on telehealth technology to improve patient care. An article in mHealth Intelligence quotes the AHA President and CEO on the importance of these technologies to value-based care models:

The Most Wired hospitals are using every available technology option to create more ways to reach their patients in order to provide access to care. They are transforming care delivery, investing in new delivery models in order to improve quality, provide access, and control costs.

The AHA and CHIME have both gone on record as supporting telehealth initiatives across the U.S. The AHA position paper suggests:

From emergency department care to remote patient monitoring for chronic care management and access to care from specialists, telehealth is changing the way health care is provided – both expanding patient access to routine and specialty care while improving patient satisfaction and outcomes.

The AHA reports that over half of all U.S. hospitals are using telehealth.

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Most Wired Telehealth Hospitals

The latest results of the Most Wired survey show that most hospitals offer some form of remote monitoring for patients. The mHealth Intelligence article laid out some of the survey findings on how these hospitals are using telehealth technology today:

  • 76% of hospitals participating in the survey offer some kind of secure messaging service on handheld digital devices where clinicians can communicate with patients.
  • 74% offer a secure email service for patients and their families so they can continue to monitor and communicate with caregivers when the patient goes home.
  • 40% of the hospitals in the survey offer virtual telehealth visits.
  • Just over 40% offer remote monitoring in the cloud, a real-time way to continue care for congestive heart failure and diabetes patients.

Some of the most robust telehealth offerings that made the list this year included Illinois-based Edward-Elmhurst Health System. Within this program, patients use the Epic MyChart app and a patient online portal to communicate with providers, while scheduling and managing appointments for follow-up care. According to a press release from Edward-Elmhurst Health System, some of the features of the program include:

  • Current and new patients can visit a web portal to schedule an appointment with the system’s ambulatory network. Lab tests, heart scans, mammograms, and other procedures can be set up online.
  • Patients are regularly monitored via CardioMEMS and Reveal LINQ implanted devices that allow physicians to remotely monitor their progress.
  • Patients can see wait times for their local ER and walk-in clinics online.

Another stand-out hospital included Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA), who launched telemedicine consults in their clinics across the system.

Are Medical Practices Being Left Out of Telehealth?

While these statistics are illustrative of increasing widespread adoption in our hospitals and their ambulatory networks, there is still a robust group of fiercely independent practitioners seeking to retain a competitive edge in the market. According to RevCycle Intelligence, that’s about one-third of the physicians in practice today. While the number of non-employed docs has been dropping over the past several years, there is a core of highly sought specialty practices that retain their independence and are looking at telehealth as a way to stay neck and neck with their hospital-owned peers.

A decade ago, these practices simply couldn’t afford to add on-site telehealth options. The on-site technology was typically too expensive for smaller practices to afford, which is exactly why hospitals moved into the “most wired” space as early adopters.

But cloud technology has become the great equalizer for many technologies and the smaller practices that use them. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) models have proliferated to match smartphones in popularity. As the decades-old Internet stabilized and became more secure, even enterprise organizations such as large health systems are moving to these models not only for software but for their infrastructures, including new disaster recovery models that save data by taking it into the cloud. A survey by HIMSS Analytics says 88% of all healthcare providers – no matter their size – now use the cloud in general and SaaS applications specifically. More than one-half of all healthcare providers in the U.S. today now even trust at least part of their IT infrastructure to the cloud.

Obviously, this signals a gargantuan shift in attitudes toward cloud-based applications.

Some of these SaaS models being used in healthcare today include telehealth applications, such as the OrthoLive product. A chief component of SaaS is that they offer clients an affordable monthly subscription service without the high overhead traditionally associated with on-premise hardware and software.

What that means for the smaller or independent practice is that telehealth is now widely available, affordable, and HIPAA-compliant. OrthoLive developed an application that is hand-tailored for orthopedic workflows. OrthoLive was designed by an orthopedic surgeon, which allows for easier adoption than more generalized telehealth models. OrthoLive is a tool designed to help orthopedic practitioners stay ahead of technology trends in an increasingly competitive field. If your practice is ready to compete with your Most Wired competitors, call us for a complimentary demo of OrthoLive.

Topics: "telehealth", "telemedicine", digital trends, technology, most wired

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