Understanding the business of online care

This story first appeared in the February 2014 issue of Pulse+IT Magazine.

Technology itself is no longer a barrier for the vast majority of telehealth services in Australia. What remains a barrier is the many issues faced when scaling telehealth services up to a sustainable model. By factoring the true costs of telehealth, you will be able to create a telehealth model that will meet the needs of your practice and your patients.

The real challenge in telehealth today isn’t technology. It was telehealth early adopters who had to battle through third world-like internet connectivity, expensive hardware-based solutions, a lack of industry standards, a relatively non-existent funding stream and a wall of health industry resistance.

Today, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to technology. Inexpensive and free, web-based video conferencing solutions abound, some of which are even interoperable. Broadband and 4G internet is now widely available throughout the country and some parts have access to the NBN. There is a funding stream, via Medicare, that has enabled telehealth to climb out of the closet and into the mainstream, whilst the RACGP and many specialist colleges have created technical and clinical standards to assist clinicians with delivering care online efficaciously.

The real challenge in telehealth today lies in creating sustainable, profitable business models that can meet the needs of governments, service operators, practices and, of course, patients.

While frame rates, compression, 128-bit encryption and other technology terms have dominated telehealth discussions over the last few years, we need to focus on scalability and sustainability to ensure the industry’s existing investments have not been in vain.

To read the full story, click here for the February 2014 issue of Pulse+IT Magazine.

Posted in Australian eHealth


0 # Kate McDonald 2014-03-14 11:31
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The following comment is from Dr Terry Hannan, clinical associate professor at UTAS and consultant physician at Launceston General Hospital.

"We have known for decades technology has not been the problem with e-health (it will always be evolving). The critical issue is the use of information management tools that can interrogate the iterative, ever-expanding clinical data and knowledge bases. Here are two examples. It is taken from the Regenstrief system in Indianapolis.

Regenstrief Institute: April 2012: 18 hospitals-Estab lished 1976
  • >32 million physician orders entered by CPOE
    Data base of 6 million patients
    900 million on-line coded results
    20 million reports - diagnostic studies, procedure results, operative notes and discharge summaries
    65 million radiology images
    CLINICAL DECISION SUPPORT - BLINK TIMES (CCDSS-through iterative Dbase analysis)

Using an established e-health system in Kenya (AMPATH - http://www.ampathkenya.org/ ) the system stores > 120, million standardised clinical observations captured during care that are used to support clinical decision making, research, epidemiology and health administration.

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