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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Telehealth Promises Higher Quality of Life for Rural America

It is not uncommon to find lesser access to healthcare capabilities in rural pockets of the world, and this holds true in the United States as well. A 2017 CDC report showed that death rates in rural America due to cancer are higher than urban communities. With recent changes to telehealth revenue models, and relaxed federal regulation, telehealth capabilities bring promise to areas that are hard to access service, as providers can extend their services into rural areas of states in which they are credentialed.

In June, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it would be opening opportunities for healthcare providers to receive funding for infrastructure build-outs and improved access for patients. Funding can be used to provide clinical monitoring devices for patients's use at home, or telehealth software and hardware by providers.

Solo and small provider groups, along with large medical systems can extend their reach beyond their local zip codes. The playing field is not totally equal to all clinicians, but a specialist in Baltimore can certainly start providing telehealth services to residents in Western Maryland through the click of a mouse. The smaller practice can up with innovative billing models which still hold effective to the patient maybe even without using insurance, as they leverage lower overheads and direct personalized care. The larger provider groups benefit from the marketing economies of scale, more aggressive advertising, but are constrained by less flexible revenue models, large overhead, and the less than optimum agility to adopt solutions.

Many successful implementations have shown promise such as in the case of an oncology program in California which helped bring patients closer to caregivers especially during the brutal months of winter. The program reached accreditation by the commission on Cancer and has seen a growth of 8X over two years from 60 patients to 500 patients back in 2008.

The vendor and solution provider landscape is offering more innovation than a few years ago, and opportunities for easier access, higher value proposition and more personalized care with smarter revenue models cutting out the middle insurance broker are becoming more of a reality, especially in preventative and monitoring care. Generally speaking, patients adherence to long term is not strong, with closer engagement with their care providers the likelihood of adhering to guidelines and recommendations is much higher, leading to improved health outcomes.

Examples of telehealth solutions that are creating personalized experiences for patients through access to a stronger medical ecosystem are Siemens Healthineers, and Vianova. Standards groups such as Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) are actively working on interoperability standards for devices and data across solution providers. The IEEE P2933 work group focuses developing a framework for the clinical IoT data and device Interoperability with TIPPSS (Trust, Identity, Privacy, Protection, Safety, Security) principles. This includes wearable and other clinical IoT enabled devices and their interoperability with healthcare systems including Electronic Health Records (EHR), other clinical IoT devices, hospital devices, and future devices and connected healthcare systems.

#telehealth #patientmonitoring #P2933 #healthcare

Ayman Nassar is an industry expert in project and portfolio management with over 25 years experience in architecting business solutions through optimum alignment of technology and business to achieve meaningful results. He is also a member of IEEE P2933 helping bringing patients closer to improved quality of life through robust and seamless telehealth solutions. He can be reached at or

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