Mobile Future

Talking Telehealth

The Broadband Breakfast Club hosted an important dialogue yesterday focused on the future of telemedicine. Billed as “Setting the Table for the National Broadband Plan: Health Care,” the panel discussion included four physicians, who – along with Drew Clark, Editor and Executive Director of BroadbandCensus.com – examined how the development of a national broadband plan will affect health care delivery and outcomes.
 
The panelists included:
 
-Dr. Adam Darkins, Department of Veterans’ Affairs
-Col. Ron Poropatich, M.D., Department of the Army
-Dr. Jay Sanders, Global Telemedicine Group; the "father of telemedicine"
-Dr. Ted Eytan, Medical Director for Delivery Systems Operations Improvement, Kaiser Permanente
 
Dr. Sanders was quick to point out that telehealth is an “old idea,” something he’s been working on for nearly 40 year. Though widespread adoption of telemedicince still hasn’t been realized, Dr. Sanders is optimistic about its future and sees broadband as the “umbilical cord” of telehealth. He also predicted that the smartphone will be the key for both health monitoring and the delivery of medical information such as test results and prescriptions.
 
Dr. Darkins brought up another “old idea” — hospitals, which he described as an “outdated, Victorian models for health care.” Dr. Darkins argued that the delivery of medical services is moving away from the hospital model toward home-, school-, and work-based care that’s focused on prevention.
 
Dr. Eytan cited studies showing that telehealth application successfully lowers costs and improves health outcomes. The full panel agreed that health care delivery is shifting from a model based on one doctor’s opinion toward a more advanced “team approach” in which several health care professionals work together in diagnosing and treating a patient.
 
When an audience member asked about the obstacles preventing widespread adoption of telemedicine, Dr. Sanders responded that outdated regulations, such as state licensing requirements, and CMS reimbursement rules are standing in the way.
 
The application examples and costs savings potential were so compelling that several audience members asked variations of the question: Why isn’t everyone using telemedicine?
 
As the health care reform debate moves forward in Congress, we should all be asking this.
 
Webcasts of the Broadband Breakfast Club are available on the BroadbandCensus.com channel on TV Mainstream <http://www.tvmainstream.com/series/bbclub/.