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An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – An old adage that we are starting to see health care systems and individuals around the world embody. Instead of merely treating sick people, we are all focusing more on innovative ways to integrate prevention and wellness into all aspects of people's lives, both to reduce chronic issues and hospital readmission and to address health practitioner shortages. 

 

Technology innovation is a game changer in prevention and wellness, not just in hospitals and healthcare environments. Increasingly, mobile consumer technology is being used to promote it. Just think of the number of apps that are available on the Apple Appstore or Google Play – heart rate monitors, blood pressure trackers, activity sensors. The Apple watch even has a built-in activity app that reminds you to stand for a minute each hour! More advanced applications come in the form of digital health coaching solutions or stress management products offered by Johnson and Johnson. And there are more start-ups around the world, wanting a piece of the sustainable health market.

 

Healthcare is also much more social today: interactive programs such as Fitbit that help us motivate one another to stay active and healthy, support groups for conditions like depression and autism, these are all highly accessible. But with all that modern medicine has to offer, there is nothing more assuring than speaking directly to a doctor about your situation, growing a relationship with a physician, and building up a health history that is more than just a single diagnosis. So how do we keep the important personal aspects of physician relationships while taking advantage of the modern advances?

 

Take the following life stages, where secure and robust voice and video technologies remove physical limitations and enable new ways for flexible delivery of information across a wide variety of healthcare professionals, patient and the broader community:

 

Prenatal Care and Infancy

Video access and connected care support exhausted, anxious mothers and fathers when they need support most. From carefully watching developmental milestones to offering more regular, personal health screenings, connected health allows for earlier interventions for children who are not progressing physically (e.g. failure to thrive) or mentally (e.g. inability to follow sounds). With earlier intervention comes better prognoses, and video access can offer more efficient care in these circumstances. 

 

Childhood and Adolescence

Health habits throughout childhood are directly related to lifelong health. Reaching into both homes and schools, wellness programs can nurture healthier diets, a bigger focus on exercise, more regular health screenings (even when parents are two busy or uninformed to keep these up), and even mental/emotional health check-ins during the volatile prepubescent and puberty years.

 

Adulthood

As adults become in charge of their own health and wellness, regular checkups with doctors often get pushed down the priority list, below career and family. Collaborative healthcare helps adults work key checkups and appointments into their busy schedule, remove the challenge for those who travel regularly or can’t leave their children behind, and otherwise remove many barriers to improved wellness and more productive lives.

 

Elderly

For many elderly, the ideal of living alone and independent is preferred, but can be scary. Video conferencing is a way to offer independence while still making it easy for family, caregivers and physicians to check in regularly, monitoring whether more care or oversight should be discussed. Video communication can also work to much more quickly diagnose acute medical events, and follow up after these events, reducing the need to stay in a medical facility for a prolonged period of time.

 

The Future

For those of us who did not grow up as “digital natives,” much of this health and wellness care via video seems futuristic and hard to imagine. But for today’s infants and children, this type of medical communication will not only be imaginable, it will be the norm. Connected health is just one of many ways that video communication will improve our lives, but it’s one that we’ll all begin to feel in the near future. See more on how video supports and connects us at every health challenge we could possibly face.

 

And more on video content management in healthcare: http://community.polycom.com/t5/The-View/3-Trends-in-Video-Based-Medical-Education/ba-p/56458

 

 

Polycom Employee

A guest post from Ron Emerson, Polycom’s Global Director of Healthcare. Ron is a Registered Nurse and respected expert on telehealth. He is also a former member of the board of Directors for the American Telemedicine Association and Chair of the Industry Council. 

 

Ron_Emerson.jpg

When it comes to a vision for the future of healthcare, it is clear that organisations and governments are recognising the need for many changes in the way we care for patients. At the heart of healthcare reforms lies the need for massive improvements in productivity and efficiency, in light of challenges such as physician shortages, delivering healthcare to rural populations, rapidly ageing societies, and unnecessary expenditures.

 

 

Picture1.pngThe global healthcare industry faces renewed pressure to find new and innovative ways with which to extend healthcare services that are patient-centric and cost effective. Studies show that better care coordination and reducing avoidable hospitalisation results in better clinical outcomes for patients, thereby reducing costs. On a global scale, we are seeing a paradigm shift from treating the ill to preventing illness with associated cost reduction. There is also renewed focus on prevention and wellness programmes to reduce hospitalisations, and a shift towards more patient-centred care models. This would rely heavily on such factors as changing patient behaviour through better education and awareness, and treating patients at the point-of-care (such as their homes or local community centres).

 

What does this mean for the state of healthcare in the decade to come? For a start, changes in mindset and strategic objectives are becoming evident, as healthcare organisations focus on three main areas to increase efficiency and reduce costs:

 

  1. How to keep in contact,
  2. How to keep people healthy, and 
  3. How to keep chronic disease from quickly turning into an acute episode (and thereby reduce hospitalisation and treatment costs).

 

Picture2.pngIn the face of future challenges, today’s healthcare model requires prevention and wellness programmes, and easy access to expert consultations no matter where or when the need arises. Furthermore, there is no question that it is more efficient to move information than to move people – and this paves a clearer path to productive healthcare delivery.

 

Distance technology for healthcare – particularly the growth of telemedicine or telehealth – has offered opportunities to realise these new models of care delivery. Telehealth or telemedicine, broadly speaking, is the electronic exchange of medical information – this could mean something as simple as sharing a photo of a lesion, to viewing a patient’s blood pressure status, to accessing a patient’s complete medical history, to specialists discussing a clinical study. The growth statistics for telehealth are staggering; market research firm IHS predicts the U.S. telehealth market will grow from $240 million in 2013 to $1.9 billion by 2018, representing an annual growth of 56 per cent. Globally, the growth is predicted to be even more astounding as BCC Research suggests the telemedicine market will triple to $27.3 billion in 2016, from $9.8 billion in 2010[i].

 

These statistics make it all the more evident that the landscape of healthcare delivery is changing – and requires rapid transformation to cope with the pressures placed on the industry. Private sector organisations in particular are choosing telehealth as they focus on being measured on value and quality of care services rather than just a fee-per-service model. The reality is that people spend the majority of time at work or in their homes, but these are the two locations where it has been more difficult to get the same level of care as you would by visiting a hospital. As governments and healthcare organisations realise this, there is also an increasing shift towards home care and remote patient monitoring (outside hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes), to deliver effective healthcare services with reduced expenditure. Statistics show that three million patients worldwide are already receiving professional care by being connected to home medical monitoring devices; this number is expected to grow to 19.1 million patients around the world by 2018[ii]. A greater emphasis is also now being placed on population health management, focusing on preventing problems before they develop for better clinical and patient outcomes and more cost-effective delivery of care.

 

Video-Enabled Care Delivery


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Video collaboration technology and telehealth are effective tools in shaping these new care delivery models. In addition to traditional doctor-patient consultations, video technology enables face-to-face collaboration across the whole spectrum of stakeholders – between doctors and hospitals, patients and consultants, and other supporting professionals – independent of physical barriers.

 

We have seen some incredible instances of video-enabled care delivery in practice and the resulting benefits to patients and care providers. For example:

 

▪ The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK utilises video to provide a range of services such as reaching new mothers in their homes for lactation consulting and well-baby visits, connecting stroke victims with remote doctors, providing specialist paediatric neurology services to more patients, and enabling nurses to monitor the progress of renal care patients

 

South Carolina Department of Mental Health in the US connects to patients in emergency rooms via video for telepsychiatry consultations and rapid intervention, a move which resulted in a saving of USD $24 million over three years

 

The Canterbury and West Coast District Health Boards in New Zealand use telehealth solutions to reach a larger population over vast distances, increasing the number of cases paediatricians are able to handle and reducing the burden on patients to travel long distances

 

Silver Chain Group in Western Australia uses mobile video solutions to connect patients in the comfort of their own homes with specialists who can, for example, view wounds and monitor medication adherence

 

For a healthcare organisation, video-enabled care delivery makes strategic and financial sense. Likewise, for patients it puts management of their health back into their own hands and reduces unnecessary travel time and associated costs. For medical professionals, video collaboration opens up new opportunities in coordinated care delivery, sharing of expertise, and continuing medical education and training.

 

Fundamental to any technology deployment in healthcare is that quality of care is not compromised. Video collaboration solutions not only provide the human interaction and face-to-face element, so important for any consultation, but innovation and a broad range of technology have enabled customised solutions for patient examinations and a multidisciplinary approach to healthcare delivery. This means that with High Definition visuals, bespoke accessories on telemedicine carts, or remote patient monitoring capabilities on mobile devices, clinical workflow becomes much more efficient and collaboration happens naturally – without the barriers of distance and accessibility.

 

Healthcare in 2025


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The healthcare industry is indeed evolving – ageing populations, healthcare reform and rapidly increasing costs are forcing us to do things differently. As we move more towards population health, the entire care team will be responsible for the patient’s outcomes instead of just the physician/clinician. With these changes, comes the need for connecting care team members, patients, and families in an effective manner – regardless of location or device. Increasing patient engagement and awareness through greater collaboration and information exchange will become a key driver in achieving better clinical outcomes. As such, the realities of geography, demographics and provider shortages is making video and collaboration tools key to the changing landscape of healthcare.

 

What do you think?
At Polycom we are currently gathering global perspectives on the future of healthcare. If you wish to participate, please have your say here.

 

Learn more about telehealth solutions at: www.polycom.asia/solutions/solutions-by-industry/healthcare/collaborativehealthcare.html

 

A guest post from Ron Emerson, Polycom’s Global Director of Healthcare. Ron is a Registered Nurse and respected expert on telehealth. He is also a former member of the board of Directors for the American Telemedicine Association and Chair of the Industry Council.

 

Ron_Emerson.jpgEffective healthcare delivery in the face of today’s challenges will rely on innovation and collaboration technology being the enablers. In my previous blog post, I discussed these points and why telehealth and technology solutions will be critical to the future of healthcare, as the industry moves towards a more patient-centred model of care delivery. In this post, we present perspectives from two medical technology experts, one from New Zealand and the other from Australia: Dr. John Garrett, Paediatrican and Telehealth Clinical Leader, Canterbury and West Coast District Health Board and Dr. Simon Kos, Health Industry Market Development Manager at Microsoft Australia.

 

What technologies will drive healthcare innovation over the next decade or so?

 

John Garrett: “Many complex systems work in the background to support a consultation between a clinician and a patient, including the scheduling of the appointment, and the storing of the patient’s clinical information. They have been designed on the premise that the patient and clinician will be in the same physical location. Over the next ten years these systems will evolve to account for the fact that the clinician and the patient may be in different locations. At the same time, the telehealth tools being used will become more and more integrated with the clinical information and patient management systems.”

 

Simon Kos: “The current interest in health-related wearable sensors like smart watches and fitness bands will increase, creating a rich sea of data to empower more personalised management of wellness and health lifestyles. The consumer domain of wellness will intersect with the traditional health system, and we will see health coaching supporting patients to become more active in managing their own conditions. These shifts are already occurring and represent an opportunity for more effective health service delivery.”


What are the challenges we need to overcome today to enable a positive healthcare future?  

 

John Garrett: “Today, some healthcare systems struggle to support the number of people that require care. The traditional approach of patients and clinicians coming together in the same physical location is becoming unsustainable, because ’bricks and mortar‘ healthcare facilities are stretched to capacity, and expanding this capacity is very expensive. At the same time, there is increasing evidence that many patients do better if they are able to receive care in or close to their own homes; and that they generally prefer this. It is possible to address these two issues simultaneously by the thoughtful application of videoconferencing, tele-monitoring, and mHealth applications.”

 

Simon Kos: “Pressures like our ageing population and rising rates of chronic disease will necessitate new models of care and service delivery. Funding and investment will determine our progress. The challenge in today’s cost-sensitive environment is not to do more with less, but to do more with new.”

 

What will future modes of care delivery will look like?

 

John Garrett: “In order for the healthcare sector to fully embrace these technology advancements, clinicians and patients need to find technology that is reliable and easy-to-use.  In addition, the information transferred through these technology applications and devices, needs to be of a very high standard, as it forms the basis of important decisions made about the patient’s care. It also needs to be completely secure to maintain patient privacy. The hardware required to support the level of video quality needed for a patient consultation is still for the most part, only found in healthcare settings.  If device and software manufacturers can make this technology cheaper and more portable, and provide secure cloud based access, patients will be able to collaborate with their clinician from the comfort of their own homes.”

 

Simon Kos: “The emphasis on health services will increasingly shift from acute care hospitals into the community and home, and clinical systems supported by connected mobile devices will play an enabling role. Telehealth will increasingly start to virtualise health provider visits, improving access for those in rural and remote locations.”

 

 

  • What do you think is the future of healthcare? What do governments and the industry need to do to manage healthcare challenges? Have your say on what healthcare will look like in 2025, take our global survey now.

 

A guest post from Ron Emerson, Polycom’s Global Director of Healthcare. Ron is a Registered Nurse and respected expert on telehealth. He is also a former member of the board of Directors for the American Telemedicine Association and Chair of the Industry Council.

 

 

Ron_Emerson.jpgThe term ‘telehealth’ has evolved from much more of a concept, to become something which is a key consideration for the future of healthcare. Telehealth can essentially be described as the transfer of electronic medical data from one location to another – which would include sharing medical records, remote patient monitoring, or healthcare professionals consulting each other during a medical procedure such as a patient review or even surgery.

 

What telehealth also encompasses, is the increased access to medical care and professional consultation for people across any distance, helping patients to consult doctors or specialists, and receive advice and even prescriptions without having to travel to hospitals. Additionally, telehealth extends the standards of healthcare available to patients based in rural areas, effectively helping them achieve the same quality of care available in major cities where generally large specialist hospitals and medical facilities are located.

 

Silver Chain.pngIn Asia Pacific we have recently seen some great examples of telehealth adoption including Australia’s Silver Chain Group, China’s Xuanwu Hospital and New Zealand’s Canterbury and West Coast District Health Boards.

Faced with rapidly ageing populations and a shortage of medical practitioners and specialists, many countries are looking to implement strategies to develop new healthcare models. According to a report by IHS Technology, the global telehealth market is expected to grow ten-fold by 2018, to $4.5 billion, up from $449.6 million in 2013. This is a huge indication of how, amid challenges such as ageing populations, and management of chronic diseases, the healthcare industry will seek to change how it operates. Now, more than ever, the drivers for telehealth have come into renewed focus:

 

1. The rise of ‘super-aged’ societies:
When it comes to the challenges and impact of an ageing population, there has been no time like the present in preparing for its effects on an economy. Currently, 23 per cent of the population of Japan is over 65 years old, while in India, the over-65s will make up 19 per cent of its total population by the year 2015. And now, a new report by Moody’s has shown that the number of ‘super-aged’ countries (i.e. when the population over 65 exceeds 20%) would reach 13 in 2020 and 34 in 2030. According to the report, some societies in Asia are forecast to age particularly rapidly – namely China, Hong Kong, and Korea. This is particularly pertinent when having to prepare for a number of factors, including a greater demand for aged-care, and increased pressure on governments to deliver quality health services with a reduced workforce. Already, healthcare providers such as the Silver Chain Group in Australia, are using technology to service the country’s largest state, Western Australia, covering an area of over 2.5 million square kilometres (over 976,000 miles). Through the use of mobile video collaboration via tablets and smartphones, patients are able to connect to required specialists – all from the comfort of their own home without having to travel long distances. This model of innovative healthcare delivery has been so successful, Silver Chain was even recently awarded the ITAC Aged Care IT Award for Best Implementation of the Year!

 

2. Coordinated healthcare
Every industry looks to smarter ways of working, in making best use of personnel and resources to achieve the best possible outcomes. Healthcare is no different in that patient services require a coordinated effort between several parties including doctors, specialists, nurses, therapists, and pharmacists. In a typical patient’s case, a number of interactions are necessary from first consultation to recovery and having that reassurance that these services are available anytime, across any distance goes a long way in helping prevent conditions deteriorating. Telehealth would enable better integration between all care and health service providers for improved patient outcomes, and ultimately ensure more efficient collaboration between practitioners.

 

3. New opportunities emerging:
A report by Frost & Sullivan in 2013 indicated that telehealth opportunities in Asia Pacific are on the rise, and governments across the region will continue to be the major architects of such initiatives. In one indication, South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare announced late last year that it would make a push towards telehealth in 2015. The country’s president has acknowledged the importance of telehealth adoption as current healthcare systems cannot address growing demand for healthcare services as the population ages. Additionally, improvements in broadband infrastructure, such as Australia’s NBN and Singapore’s Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network, can support a wider spread adoption of telehealth initiatives.

 

4. Prevention and wellness: How can healthcare providers use telehealth to reach patients and prevent some conditions from deteriorating? Today’s healthcare model requires prevention and wellness programmes, and access to expert consultations whenever, and wherever the need arises. In the UK, for example, the National Health Service (NHS) Cumbria and Lancashire Cardiac and Stroke Network uses video collaboration technology for time-critical diagnostic consultation and applied treatment for cardiac and stroke patients. In this case, remote doctors connect with patients during early stages of a stroke, when intervention is most critical, for real-time, face-to-face assessment.

 

West Coast DHB.JPGSimilarly, the Canterbury and West Coast District Health Boards in New Zealand are using telehealth solutions to connect patients face-to-face with specialists, via technology such as desktop video collaboration, mobile software on tablets and smartphones, and a Polycom practitioner cart. The technology implementation has benefited children the most, as paediatricians have been enabled to cope with seeing more patients, whereas the workload was previously a struggle. Implementing telehealth services increases the access to care, for a larger population helping to reach patients and prevent some conditions from deteriorating and turning into chronic or acute diseases. This is particularly relevant with conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, which require frequent monitoring. Patients largely prefer to be responsible for their own health and recover from home. Technology would contribute to a large saving in time, cost, and indeed unnecessary hospitalisation or readmission. This can be achieved simply by opening up the opportunity to have access to specialists anywhere, and enabling remote monitoring of a patient’s condition via mobile devices.

 

Responding to growing healthcare needs is a big challenge ahead and telehealth is quite simply, critical to the future of healthcare. Addressing concerns of an increasing ageing population, extending health services to rural populations, and making best use of physicians’ time for greater patient outcomes are just some of the issues to be considered when exploring the opportunities for efficient, cost-effective healthcare delivery via technology.

 

 

▪ What do you think is the future of healthcare? What do governments and the industry need to do to manage healthcare challenges? Have your say on what healthcare will look like in 2025, take our global survey now.

 

▪ Learn more about collaborative healthcare and technology solutions for healthcare on our dedicated healthcare site.

 

 

A guest post from Ron Emerson, Polycom’s Global Director of Healthcare. Ron is a Registered Nurse and respected expert on telehealth. He is also a former member of the board of Directors for the American Telemedicine Association and Chair of the Industry Council.

 

Ron_Emerson.jpgEarlier this week, International Nurses Day was celebrated around the world. Inaugurated in 1965, this takes place every year on May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, and marks the huge contributions nurses make to society.

 

This therefore seems like a very appropriate week to pause and share with you some of the most recent success stories that we’ve seen in the field of nursing. Across Asia Pacific and globally, we have observed how many nurses and fellow healthcare professionals use telehealth to drive innovative practice, enhance procedures and increase overall performance and standards in patient care and knowledge transfer. Here are three impressive examples:

 

Western Australia-based health care providers: Silver Chain

This is a much talked about example of video helping nurses to truly defy distance. Silver Chain is one of the largest providers of community, clinical and health care services assisting over 40,000 people each year in Western Australia. With video, the organisation is now able to provide ongoing training and distribute relevant training materials to its nurses and volunteers across Western Australia, all from the company's head office.

 

 

Evelina London Children’s Hospital

Since implementing video, the hospital has saved about 1,300 hours of consultants’ and surgeons’ time each year – with even more efficiencies gained in nursing services and support. For example, cardiologist consultants can examine diagnostic-quality scans during complex operations in real time, without having to be physically present. The time to review scans is reduced from 90 minutes to five minutes and enables quicker operations and less time under anaesthetic for young patients. The time saved by consultants and nursing teams is now used to help more sick children and their parents.

 

 

UK National Health Service (NHS)
Telehealth is having a big impact on patients and healthcare practitioners at hospitals and Trusts across the UK. In the video below, a stroke specialist nurse and other colleagues explain their successful implementation of video to enable 24/7 care for stroke patients. This out-of-hours service is enabling medical professionals to save more lives.

Another NHS Trust is using mobile video conferencing solutions to enable nurses to observe patients progress in their own home and offer support should they need it. This saves the need for the patient or practitioner to travel.

 

 

You can learn more about telehealth by watching the short video below: a conversation on the topic that we recorded during my last visit to the Asia Pacific region earlier this year. (Allow it a few moments to load.) If you have any questions for me, please do get in touch by leaving a comment here or emailing me directly at ron.emerson@polycom.com

 

(view in My Videos)
 

 

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