Sunday, January 17, 2016

Telehealth Extends Beyond Hospitals and Clinics

Historically when telehealth is discussed it's usually related to some type of specialty care in hospitals/clinics or consumer based virtual care. However some of the best use cases in telehealth are performed outside of the hospital/clinic environment.

Schools are one example of this concept. With funding tight and a continued focused on reducing operational expenses, the school nursing programs are stretched. Telehealth can and in some cases already play a major role in connecting schools to specialists like behavioral health. As telehealth technology continues to evolve schools can do much more relative to virtual office visits and diagnosis via telehealth. Imagine physicals being performed on kids via a telehealth room at the school. Where the school and kids can have access to a network of Family Physicians in their community to perform basic physical examinations remotely. There are also cases around specialty consultation referrals (i.e, pharyngitis, dermatitis or upper respiratory infections) that are performed at the school through telehealth with a high rate of satisfaction from parents, specialists and school administration.

The primary health related benefits of effective telehealth programs in schools are higher quality of care, increased mental health and decrease use of emergency and urgent care. However there are very important academic benefits that should not be ignored such as; decreased absenteeism, higher grades and increased focus and participation in school activities. All of which makes for a more rounded student and can even increase funding for the school since funding is based on student's attendance and academic performance.

School telehealth programs can be a win-win for the entire community by being able to efficiently target health issues, focus on preventive care and access and employ the resources of community health care providers. As we discuss the benefits of telehealth the discussion can not be limited to hospitals or clinics but expand to places more convenient for the patient. Isn't that what patient-centered care is all about?

Rodney Brown 

Mr. Brown brings extensive experience building companies and leading sales, operations and service organizations in technology and healthcare. He is the Executive Director of HealthNet connect and CEO of HNcBNc.

The views and opinions on this blog are my own.

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