The healthcare industry stands on the verge of digital transformation in response to the shift to value-based health with its focus on improving the quality of care as well as the patient and clinician experience, while reducing costs. Value-based health balances personal touch with technology, allowing programs to reach more patients in cost-effective and efficient ways.
Telehealth (including telemedicine and virtual care) is a natural extension of value-based health that can help take healthcare and care services to the patients, redefining convenience. Telehealth is the use of telecommunication and digital technologies to deliver healthcare outside of traditional healthcare facilities, using computers and mobile devices. It includes a broad spectrum of services including health education and information, remote health monitoring, digital therapeutics, and care delivery.
In the past, telehealth has been impeded by misaligned incentives such as fee-for-service reimbursement models where physicians were compensated for driving high volumes of in-person patient visits.
Today’s consumers, especially younger ones, favor the convenience of virtual care over traditional in-person visits. Virtual care combines web video, instant messaging, advanced telephony, and mobile to support real-time visits between physicians or other licensed clinicians and their patients using consumer-assessible technology. The Internet of Things (IoT) also has a key role in shaping the delivery of customized and more precise patient care via sensors, remote monitors, and wearables that leverage the strength of big data and analytics.
These trends — from the rise of value-based healthcare and evolving reimbursement strategies to the embrace of virtual care — are driving the adoption of connected health technologies and the need for more resilient enterprise networks to support them. There’s no question that healthcare providers looking to embrace telehealth will need to invest in upgrading their enterprise networks to ensure their performance, reliability, resilience, and security.
In particular, the proliferation of endpoints – medical devices, bedside telemetry, medical imaging, remote health-monitoring devices, mobile phones, tablets, and wearables including smartwatches – will present multiple challenges to healthcare IT organizations, especially around security and privacy. Issues with low bandwidth and latency will yield a poor user experience for the patient and the clinician, resulting in the underutilization of an important investment to provide convenient access to care.
Fortunately, healthcare providers seeking to invest in telehealth don’t need to go it alone. Forward-thinking organizations should consider partnering with technology suppliers that understand their unique business and the regulatory environment in which they operate.
To learn more, read the IDC Analyst Connection, “Investing in Connected Health Technologies to Provide Value-Based Healthcare,” sponsored by CenturyLink.