October 7, 2014


How Telemedicine Is Changing Health Care (Angela Haupt Oct. 7, 2014, US News)

More than half of U.S. hospitals use telemedicine to engage with patients remotely - from monitoring vital signs to full-fledged consultations at a distance. Just the flash of a webcam, for example, allows critically ill patients, perhaps in an eICU, access to a world-class team of physicians who could be anywhere from miles to states away.

Patients' doctor visits of the future will, in many cases, involve facing a screen - and "in some emergency rooms in San Francisco, you can walk into a kiosk, answer a set of questions and your course of care will be decided by an algorithm in a computer," said moderator Steven Sternberg, U.S. News' deputy health rankings editor. "There's a lot of ferment in the field," and real obstacles along with benefits. Among the highlights of the discussion, which explored both:

Linkous said telemedicine has been around 20 to 30 years "depending how you define it." Perhaps the greatest example: radiologists, who don't need to be in the same hospital or even city as a patient to examine digital images. Telemedicine is in place in 100 to 200 networks around the country, and close to 1 million patients will receive consultations online via webcam this year. "And that's just the small tip of the iceberg," Linkous said. He added that remote monitoring - for stroke patients, for example - has "huge potential" and can lead to a lower cost of care, coupled with higher quality. "It's somewhat controversial, but the truth is, consumers want it," Linkous said. There's evidence in studies, he added, which suggest that patients overwhelmingly accept telemedicine, and recognize that it's a step to receiving better care.

Posted by at October 7, 2014 6:25 PM

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