In August 2017, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated the South and Southeast regions. Florida evacuated over 7 million people, 7.4 million people lost power and almost 60 hospitals throughout the Southeast evacuated their patients. When patients were displaced and hospitals closed their doors, telemedicine provided virtual care, saved lives and reduced suffering.
Virtual healthcare transforms medical delivery in the care continuum and saves thousands of lives each year. Patients can easily access specialty care with their targeted needs, reduce their hospital stays and lower their costs.
It should not take a hurricane to remind payers and providers of telemedicine’s vital advantage of delivering high-quality, cost-effective healthcare. Too often, fee-for service medicine rewards activity over outcomes and it fails to pay for cost-effective tele-consults. Patients deserve easier access to quality care. It’s time to deliver the right care at the right time in the right place at the right price.
Telemedicine companies like American Well, Doctor on Demand, MDLive and Teladoc volunteered their services to thousands of Americans displaced by the hurricanes. Teladoc’s CMO Lewis Levy said, “Our call center reps and board certified and state-licensed physicians are standing by to help those families who have been displaced from their doctors and regular routines, but who still need non-emergency medical care.” Telemedicine’s scalability, effective triage and ability to provide efficient access to scare expertise is truly impressive. Here are three successful telemedicine companies disrupting healthcare.
- Army Virtual Health provides physical and behavioral healthcare services in more than 30 countries across 18 time zones. After the 2009 and 2014 Fort Hood shootings, they mobilized to connect survivors with behavioral specialists across the world. The Navy is now paying Army to install its telemedicine services on 67 of its ships.
- Banner Health was among one of the first health systems to centralize ICU operations. Centralized ICU monitoring enables clinicians to monitor over 430 ICU beds across multiple locations in its seven-state network. Clinicians are able to immediately respond to emergencies, which saves over 2,000 lives and reduces cumulative ICU days by over 30,000 days.
- Mercy Health launched the nation’s first and only Virtual Care Center. Mercy Virtual delivers healthcare to patients 24/7, 365 days a year. Their telemedicine technology brings care to patients across the nation.
Given the technological advances in telemedicine, why is America still lagging to adopt telemedicine into the healthcare ecosystem? Medicare restrictions and burdensome state licensing requirements are the greatest barriers to implementing telemedicine services to more patients.
Ironically, Texas passed legislation to approve tele-consults without an initial in-person physician visit just three months before Hurricane Harvey hit. Without this legislation, telemedicine would not have been able to deliver healthcare services to the victims. Technological advances are overwhelming “indumbent” practices. Innovative companies like Army Health, Banner Health and Mercy Virtual are taking the lead. In the end, patients will win.
For more information on this topic, please read the full Market Corner Commentary here.