Telemedicine is 'an exploding field,' ATA CEO says

But telemedicine faces a challenge as consumers seek healthcare services from an ever-expanding array of providers and locations, and healthcare organizations must be prepared.
By Bill Siwicki
07:14 AM

Digital technology has been changing not just the way healthcare information is recorded and communicated but the way healthcare itself actually is delivered. And that shift in healthcare delivery is having a growing impact on the industry as telemedicine technology advances and telehealth programs expand, said Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association.

“The big theme for us at HIMSS17 will be the transformation in healthcare delivery, which is what we live and breathe,” Linkous said. “Our focus in really on the patient and service delivery, inserting technology into patient care. Our theme at the 2017 event is growth and scaling up, the explosion in growth. Telemedicine is an exploding field both in terms of the number of services delivered and the types of services being delivered using technology. It’s almost overwhelming.”

ATA executives will discuss the state of the art of telehealth and how the latest telehealth technologies are transforming the way many patients receive their care today.

“This represents a change in the way services are delivered, and what that change means not just internally in a hospital or clinic but externally, and what that change means in terms of new players and new challenges for those in charge of the technology,” Linkous said. “One challenge for telemedicine is moving into an environment beyond the walls of a hospital and being able to provide a seamless integration of the services and the data that support those services. So that way service delivery is not limited to a hospital bed or an outpatient clinic but through a growing array of settings throughout the community.”

Consumers are going to an increasing variety of places to obtain healthcare services – clinics, online consultation sites, urgent care centers, primary care physicians, hospitals, radiology centers and other locations. All of these locations hold information about patients, yet coordination among these locations still is absent, Linkous said.

“When you get into specialty services, some of these issues have been resolved,” he added. “The early progress was in radiology because in the early years the radiology clinics moved out of hospitals. There was a drain in revenue away from hospitals, which was a challenge. But you need to close the loop in terms of the information flow, and still, even in radiology, way too often a patient is required to bring a disk into a primary care provider. The information flow is not seamless yet.”

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This article is part of our ongoing coverage of HIMSS17. Visit Destination HIMSS17 for previews, reporting live from the show floor and after the conference.

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