The Key to Achieving Telemedicine 3.0
With the 2017 ATA conference coming up, everyone is talking about Telemedicine 2.0. At SnapMD, we’ve moved past that and on to Telemedicine 3.0.
Telemedicine 2.0 had been predominantly about using mobile technology and networking capabilities to link patients with available doctors to treat single, low-acuity episodic problems (e.g. colds or sore throats). Companies like American Well (AmWell) and Teladoc are emblematic of the Telemedicine 2.0 approach, leveraging technology to create networks of remote primary care physicians to provide telemedicine encounters for occasional care.
But the type of episodic care enabled by Telemedicine 2.0 is not optimal. Because these virtual visits are usually one-time engagements, care providers often lack access to the patient’s history, and the health data from the appointments might not be added to a patient’s records with their primary care physician. This creates fragmentation in records, which adversely affects continuity of care and could adversely affect future diagnosis and treatment. For patients, the virtual encounters may be unsatisfactory because they are being treated by unfamiliar caregivers who don’t understand their unique histories or needs.
While disconnected episodic care may be adequate for minor maladies, it is certainly not sufficient for the approximately 50% of American adults with a chronic condition, especially the 25% of American adults with two or more chronic conditions and the 7% of all children with chronic conditions. For these patients, synchronized and collaborative care is essential to high-quality healthcare that leads to better outcomes. And that care can only be delivered by their dedicated care providers.
Our vision for Telemedicine 3.0 makes it an extension of an established medical practice by putting the tools of telemedicine in the hands of a patient’s primary care and / or specialty physicians and other caregivers so they can deliver high-quality, coordinated, cost-effective and convenient virtual care. With this approach, the patient can be assured of receiving care provided by the physicians and caregivers they routinely see.
The key to Telemedicine 3.0 is a technology platform with true enterprise capabilities. A Telemedicine 3.0 enterprise-level platform has all the telemedicine capabilities needed by a wide variety of clinical departments, enabling healthcare providers to deliver more than just single, low-acuity episodic care – they can also manage the chronically ill and those under active treatment. With a Telemedicine 3.0 platform, all the functions needed to operate virtual care services are provided in a single suite of software that can be integrated with existing EMR, scheduling and billing systems. Using such a platform enables healthcare systems to meet the needs of multiple service lines across the care continuum, leveraging the existing staff of health systems and medical groups, as well as integrated care teams, including mid-level providers and other physician extenders. With Telemedicine 3.0, a single platform, utilizing hardware, can be used to engage patients at home, in tertiary care, or be used to facilitate care team interactions and specialty consults.
At SnapMD, we believe that the next stage of telemedicine adoption — Telemedicine 3.0 — should be placed directly in the hands of providers who have established trusted relationships with patients with chronic conditions or whom are undergoing active treatment. It is only then that the collective goal of enhancing care and outcomes while lowering cost and improving patient satisfaction can be realized.