Conversation on Connected Health

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-GA) as host for the Capitol Hill briefing held June 28, 2017, talked about the “Connect for Health Act” introduced May 2017 to help expand the use of telehealth.

As he reported, “The legislation would enable the use of telehealth to help individuals with stroke, increase access to digital tools for Medicare Advantage enrollees, cover remote patient monitoring services for certain individuals, and enable telehealth to be used for more for mental health services.”

The panelists at the briefing titled “Making it Personal: The Connected Health Technology Revolution” co-sponsored by the Personal Connected Health Alliance and the HIMSS Foundation Institute for e-Health Policy”, discussed how connected health technologies are furthering healthcare and self-care.

As moderator for the discussion, Patricia Mechael PhD Executive Vice President for the Personal Connected Health Alliance, pointed out several trends that are current today and will be even more important in future years.

Consumers and patients are using more personal remote monitoring medical devices for tracking glucose and/or cholesterol, telehealth is playing an important role, and more information is available to teach individuals how to prevent illnesses. In addition, with the advent of genomics, precision medicine, and artificial intelligence, more and more data is available.

Deanna Larson, Chief Executive Officer at Avera eCare explained how Avera eCare a partner in telehealth, provides such services as acute and post-acute 24/7 on- demand services. This is achieved by using interactive video which has created a large Virtual Health Center for Avera eCare reaching across hundreds of miles.

Avera eCare provides immediate services fully utilizing technology to help people 24/7 in emergency situations, specialty critical care services are provided 24/7, access to the pharmacy is available at all times, and 24/7 access is available involving patients with behavioral health issues.

She reports that by using virtual health, Avera eCare saves money, avoids complications, reduces readmissions to the hospital, has a positive impact on the workforce, saves not only travel time to see the doctor, but most importantly, saves lives.

“As we know there are ideas and trends resulting in the upswing to use technology effectively in the health and medical fields”, according to Erik Pupo, Managing Director for the Accenture Health and Public Service’s Health Client Service Group,

He talked about how enormous amounts of data is constantly being retrieved to track people’s health and medical issues every minute of the day using all types of devices. Also, in the future, robots will continue to play an important role helping healthcare professionals with certain tasks.

As the representative for the NHIT Collaborative for Underserved based in D.C., Eric Rachman MD., and CEO for the Alliance of Chicago, told the attendees, “In order to obtain positive innovation results for specific underserved communities, we must continue to do research, monitor policies, and also provide effective communication skills to underserved communities.”

He explained, “It has been stated in several reports in the past several years that minority populations receive more thorough care in clinics with the use of technology and electronics. Also, providers are very likely to be happy to use mobile health and use the internet to find information.”

However, there are challenges and barriers to treating minority and underserved populations in communities since this population and their providers must see the benefits of technology, support technology, use electronic health records effectively, deal with language issues, and provide enough mobile device access to this population.

Speaking as the Chief Medical Officer for AARP Services Inc., Charlotte Yeh, MD, presented a picture of how technology helps senior citizens. As she explained, the picture of old is not always true so she asked the question and showed a video that highlighted “Who is old and what is aging?”

She gave the statistics that the senior population 85 and older is the fastest growing population but people 100 years and older are the second largest growing population. However, the elderly must have a strong sense of purpose, remain optimistic even when recovering from illnesses, but most importantly, stay connected with others in the community via technology to avoid loneliness.

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