Weekend Big Read: will telemedicine do to retail healthcare what Amazon did to retail?

Updated. Our past contributor and TelehealthWorks’ Bruce Judson (ATA 2017 coverage) has penned this weekend’s Big Read in the HuffPost. His hypothesis is that telemedicine specifically will disrupt location-based care, followed by other digitally based care–and that executives at health systems and payers are in denial. More and more states are recognizing both parity of treatment and (usually) payment. Telemedicine also appeals to three major needs: care at home or on the go, with a minimal wait; maldistribution of care, especially specialized care; and follow-up/post-acute care. His main points in the article:

  • Healthcare executives are being taken by surprise because present digital capabilities will not be future capabilities, and the shift to virtual will be a gradual process
  • Telemedicine will address doctor shortages and grow into coordinated care platforms embedding expertise (via connected diagnostics, analytics, machine learning, AI) and care teams
  • Telemedicine will eventually go up-market and directly compete with large providers in urban areas, displacing a significant amount of in-person care with virtual care
  • Telemedicine will start to incorporate continuous feedback loops to further optimize their services and move into virtual health coaching and chronic care management
  • Telemedicine platforms are also sub-specializing into stroke response, pediatrics, and neurology
  • Centers of expertise and expert platforms will become larger and fewer–centralizing into repositories of ‘the best’
  • Platforms will be successful if they are trusted through positive patient experiences. This is a consumer satisfaction model.

Mr. Judson draws an analogy of healthcare with internet services, an area where he has decades of expertise: “A general phenomenon associated with Internet services is that they break activities into their component parts, and then reconnect them in a digital chain.” Healthcare will undergo a similar deconstruction and reconstruction with a “new set of competitive dynamics.”

It’s certainly a provocative POV that at least gives a rationale for the sheer messiness and stop-n-start that this Editor has observed in Big Health since the early 2000s. A caution: the internet, communications, and retail do not endure the sheer volume of regulatory force imposed on healthcare, which tends to make the retail analogy inexact. Governments monitor and regulate health outcomes, not search results or video downloads (except when it comes to net neutrality). It’s hard to find an industry so regulated other than financial/banking and utilities. FierceHealthcare also found the premise intriguing, noting the VA’s ‘Anywhere’ programs [TTA 9 Aug] and citing two studies indicating 96 percent of large employers plan to make telemedicine, also with behavioral health services, available, and that 20 percent of employers are seeing over 8 percent employee utilization. (Under 10 percent utilization gave RAND the vapors earlier this year with both this Editor and Mr. Judson stinging RAND’s findings with separate analyses.)

The ‘right package of care’ sought for ‘bed-blockers’, home care (UK/US)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Thomas.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]’Bed-blocking’ as a signal failure of transitional care. Here is a term that may be unique to the UK, but not the problem: older people who cannot be discharged after an illness because there is no plan and no suitable place for transitional care and/or a safe return home with care. According to the Guardian, the term originated among UK healthcare managers and economists as early as the late 1950s as a marker of system inefficiency. The writer, Johnny Marshall, director of policy for the NHS Confederation, correctly notes that it should be a marker of “(a) system that has failed to move quickly enough to put together the right package of care to enable the person in the bed to return home” and that unfairly blames the patient. He gives examples of programs across Britain with home assessment and care, particularly for older people post-fall injury, that reduce or eliminate hospital days.

In the US, transitional care is pointing to a blend of home care tech/services. Some of the indicators for LTC support that Laurie Orlov points out in Tech-enabled home care — what is it, what should it be?

  • Assisted living growth is flat as this past weekend’s open can of soda–housing is chasing residents (though cost doesn’t seem to be following the usual supply/demand curve), the average resident is 87 years old and staying 22 months, and their net worth can’t afford present AL
  • There’s a huge and growing shortage of home care workers for an ever-increasing number of old and old-old
  • Yet finally big investment is taking place in tech-facilitated home care locating and matching: Honor.com, Care.com and ClearCare–a total of just under $150 million for the three

But can technology–front and back end–make up for the human shortage? And there’s a value in wearing the Quantitative Self hat here. (more…)

Minimally disruptive medicine: a two-day intensive course at Mayo Clinic

The concept of ‘minimally disruptive medicine’ is not mainstream, but should be. MDM is designed to fit the treatment to the patient. In chronic conditions, often the expectation of the doctor, practice and hospital is to do too much. After all, there is the relentless drive to value-based care that improves outcomes and reduces costs that has at its core the absolutely relentless monitoring of delivery metrics and patient compliance (take that med, even if you can’t keep your dinner down). The frustration of the patient with chronic conditions is palpable; it’s not understood, or it’s all too much to handle. We last covered Dr Victor Montori a year ago and in 2013 as proposing that we’re thinking about patients in chronic care management all wrong; that we need to fit the treatment to the patient in order to simplify actions they need to take, to reduce the burden of illness and gain a better outcome. The two-day intensive is at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, 27-29 September. Registration here. YouTube preview video.

Deloitte’s consumer view of technology acceptance in home health

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions (DCHS), the research division of Deloitte LLP’s Life Sciences and Health Care practice, conducted six focus groups late last year to gauge the acceptance of technology in home health. They tested two main home health scenarios among 42 younger (<44) and older (45-64) adults, both drawn from healthy and chronic condition patients and with a mix of demographics.

In this qualitative study, the two scenarios tested were: technology that would help manage chronic conditions and tech to promote healthy living. The first scenario gives a very advanced vision of chronic care management that involves telehealth, telemedicine and residential monitoring in the management of chronic conditions (diabetes and CHF). The second involves lifestyle factors including eating, activity and exercise management and managing travel.

Some findings in the report summarized and linked for download here, including implications for companies:

  • Overall they were open to and optimistic about using technology to enable better home care of older adults who require it–including embedded sensors.
  • ‘Smart home’ has appeal, but there is a preference for the less intrusive (stove burner/cooking range sensors, fall detectors) and resistance to perceived invasions of privacy (sleep, bathroom and activity monitoring).
  • They understood the balance of reward and risk in consideration of broad categories of nutrition, physical activity, prevention, and dealing with an acute episode (see quadrant below, click to enlarge)
[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/us-lshc-hcc-march1-my-take-p1.png” thumb_width=”200″ /]

Center Director Harry Greenspun, MD’s in his Health Care Current blog notes that TECS has the capability of providing services formerly provided only in a doctor’s office or hospital in the home, but “One question remains, “How quickly will consumers adapt and accept new technologies that bring care into their home?”–then answers his own question.

All of these innovations have given us a level of insight and capability we could not have imagined even a few years ago. At the same time, each raises privacy concerns.

So why do we do it? Because we get something out of it.

 

Chronic care management with telehealth (US)

Our readers, especially those in the US engaged with medical practices, might be interested in reading a two-part interview with Editor Donna by occasional TTA contributor Sarianne Gruber. We discuss the new model for Chronic Care Management (CCM) now included in what the Federal Government (CMS-Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) pays physicians for Medicare patient visits and services. Telehealth, or in CMS terms remote monitoring, can play a vital role in the provision of care coordination, assessment, documentation, patient access and facilitation of self-management as part of the care plan, culminating in better outcomes at lower cost. Published in the new RCM (Revenue Cycle Management) Answers, a spinoff of HITECH Answers. Part 1.  Part 2

Qualcomm (Second) Life: a conversation with Jim Mault

One of the surprises for this Editor, and for others attending the mHealth Summit, was to see the sizable presence of Qualcomm Life on both the exposition floor and during the sessions. From a near-nil presence at ATA 2014 and gone dark on news, the floodlights snapped on last week with new partners and a new emphasis: coordination of chronic and transitional (hospital to home) care management (CCM/TCM).

On the show floor, the spotlight was on the partner companies which mixed the established with (mostly) the early and mid-stage. Readers will recognize names such as AliveCor, Telcare, OMRON, Nonin and Airstrip; not so well known are Vaica, Orion Health, Monitored Therapeutics, IMPak Health, Vital Connect, Care Connectors, toSense (CoVa), Dexcom, InteliChart, TruClinic, ForaCare, VOXX, vitaphone (outside of Europe), Propeller Health and Noom Health (a NYeC Digital Health Accelerator 2014 graduate). The partners occupy different parts of the management continuum, integrating communications, record sharing, population health management, sensor-based monitoring, traditional and non-traditional vital signs monitoring, medication management, behavioral change methodologies and PHRs. The 2net Hub is still present for data transmission, sharing and storage, but more prominent is Qualcomm Life’s HealthyCircles platform which provides the clinical management ‘glue’: secure communications, record sharing and care team coordination. HealthyCircles was purchased in mid-2013. Founder James Mault, MD, FACS joined Qualcomm Life as VP/Chief Medical Officer.

We had some post-mHealth Summit reflection time by telephone this Wednesday while Dr Mault was in Boston. (more…)