Cisco survey finds global support for telehealth
At a time when patient-centered healthcare seems all the rage, a survey of top healthcare leaders around the world indicates they’re most concerned with implementing technology that allows doctors to communicate with each other.
Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group received responses from 96 leaders in 16 countries for its Global Health Leaders Survey. The results were released Wednesday in Washington, D.C., as part of the World Health Congress keynote presentation and a panel discussion titled Ministerial Forum on Global Health Innovation: A Perspective on National Health Opportunities.
According to Frances Dare and Kaveh Safavi, director and vice president, respectively, of Cisco’s IBSG Global Healthcare Practice, the survey’s results indicate healthcare leaders view collaboration – rather than cost or access – as the driving force in healthcare delivery. Both said the use of telehealth to develop care teams – doctors collaborating with each other in real time on a patient’s care, no matter where they’re located – leads to reduced waste, lower cost and better clinical outcomes.
“It shifts the focus or it shifts the emphasis,” said Dare. Healthcare leaders, she said, “see the emphasis on helping health professionals first … through virtual collaboration.”
“It is very much about the exchange of data and live interactions,” she added. “To accomplish this, we need to make sure that collaborative technologies are easy to use.”
Survey respondents listed as their top concerns providing equitable access to health services, maximizing the efficiency of health resources and providing quality care consistently. When asked what options would enable “significant, nationwide health transformation,” they identified technology-enabled innovations and telehealth solutions.
Safavi said many governments have focused their efforts on developing technology – particularly on electronic health records – and are just now shifting the focus to the proper use of that technology.
“The relative priority of collaborative technologies is going up,” he said.
Those responding to the survey see high potential in telehealth, with 65 percent supporting both ICT (information and communications technologies) and the electronic sharing or accessing of diagnostic images, video or patient biometric data. Another high-potential growth area, according to 64 percent of those surveyed, is the use of ICT for clinical training and references.
In contrast, only 32 percent placed a high priority on patient care provided by “care-at-a-distance” models.
“The doctor-to-patient relationship is still a priority,” said Dare. Improving communication and collaboration among physicians, she said, “augments that relationship.”