Who’s Seeing the Benefits of Telehealth?


We have all heard it before: telehealth is revolutionizing
health care delivery in rural communities. This statement is more than just an
empty promise, though. Indeed, as a recent Harvard Business Review article
highlighted, the work of some dedicated health care providers has shown the
tremendous benefits of telehealth to rural areas. For most, traditional
brick-and-mortar health centers in rural communities are simply not well enough
equipped to handle the needs of their communities, largely due to a lack of
funds. As a result, patients have to travel great distances, incurring
significant costs to both the patient and the care provider. But by “us[ing] secure video and audio technology to connect care
providers in smaller health care facilities with specialists in large hospitals,”
telehealth offers a solution that benefits everyone.

For example, Intermountain Healthcare, which operates
hospitals and clinics across Utah and Idaho, expanded their offerings to
include 40 different telehealth services. These services go beyond just serving
those in Utah and Idaho; they reach to seven surrounding states. One of their
most recent patients to utilize telehealth was a newborn born with a hole in
his heart. Because telehealth was a viable way for the baby to receive the
medical attention needed, the child received immediate attention and avoided a
$18,000 helicopter ride to a larger hospital. Additionally, the baby’s family
avoided a seven-hour round-trip car ride to the nearest facility every time
they wanted to visit their child. There are so many more stories like this,
from people—like this family—who have benefited from telehealth. Hospitals,
too, are recognizing real benefits. “We’ve experienced a significant decrease
in unnecessary emergency room and urgent care utilization among patients who’ve
used the service [telehealth],” Intermountain President and CEO Marc Harrison
noted in the HBR piece. The move towards more telehealth also helps
hospitals achieve the objectives of the new value-based model taking over the
way health care providers determine their success. 

This is not, of course, to say that telehealth is only way to receive medical attention, or that it will replace the value of in-person medical interactions. Nor does telehalth only work for rural areas. Rather, what the HBR piece emphasizes is that telehealth is another valuable tool for medical professionals. It provides another way for patients to receive quality care, and for health care centers to lower their costs. There still remain some (familiar) obstacles, mainly limited reimbursement policies, despite how swiftly many providers are implementing telehealth. Regardless, telehealth is catching on very quickly, and providing so many with the medical care they need.  

Click here to read the Harvard Business Review article on Intermountain’s use of telehealth.


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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !