• warning: Illegal string offset 'files' in /usr/www/users/healthit/destinationata/modules/upload/upload.module on line 281.
  • warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_user::init(&$view, &$data) should be compatible with views_handler_field::init(&$view, $options) in /usr/www/users/healthit/destinationata/sites/all/modules/views/modules/user/views_handler_field_user.inc on line 47.
  • warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_node_new_comments::pre_render(&$values) should be compatible with views_handler_field::pre_render($values) in /usr/www/users/healthit/destinationata/sites/all/modules/views/modules/comment/views_handler_field_node_new_comments.inc on line 100.
  • warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init(&$view, &$options) should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /usr/www/users/healthit/destinationata/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 744.
  • warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /usr/www/users/healthit/destinationata/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /usr/www/users/healthit/destinationata/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate(&$form, &$form_state) should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /usr/www/users/healthit/destinationata/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 159.

A Q&A with Julie Cherry, presenter of 'Successful Strategies for Integrating Telehealth'

Julie Cherry, director of clinical development for Intel-GE Care Innovations, will be the presenter for an education session titled "Successful Strategies for Integrating Telehealth," scheduled for 1-2 p.m. Monday. She recently answered some questions from ATA 2012 Show Dailies Editor Eric Wicklund.

Julie Cherry

Are providers now accepting telehealth as a means of improving on healthcare delivery, or are they still holding back? What would be a more compelling argument for them to adopt telehealth – better clinical outcomes or improved reimbursements?
Providers are beginning to accept telehealth, but adoption is still slow. The most compelling argument for the technology is better clinical outcomes. Healthcare providers are facing a complex set of circumstances — from new Medicare regulations to tighter budgetary concerns. Telehealth is poised to help address these challenges, and providers see that value. Using telehealth technology, providers have a way to streamline healthcare management and lower costs while also improving patient outcomes. For example, by deploying a disease management program, providers can deliver more proactive patient care, education and support that empower patients and improve the quality of their lives.

The real challenge of telehealth adoption, however, is not technical. For telehealth to deliver real quality to both patients and clinicians, it must be deployed properly to the right patients. Too often a physician's office or nursing staff is expected to seamlessly integrate technology into their work in a way that will improve efficiency and outcomes without any workflow modification. Instead, the exact opposite occurs, and the true potential of telehealth is not realized. To avoid this shortfall, healthcare professionals and tech experts must be focused on the people doing the work and receiving the care, instead of focusing purely on the technology itself. 

How can payers influence the development of telehealth programs by providers? Is this a new role for them, and will it affect their relationship with providers?
One of the challenges of telehealth adoption is the lack of reimbursement. A successful telehealth program requires up-front investment and in many cases reorganization of the clinical workflow. Without a defined reimbursement model, many providers are hesitant. Payers can help reverse this trend and speed the pace of adoption by reshaping the current reimbursement models to focus less on fee-for-service and face-to-face visits so that clinicians and healthcare organizations get paid for the care that is delivered via telehealth.

One example of the impact payers can make is the Humana Cares pilot of the Intel-GE Care Innovations Guide. In 2011, Humana Cares deployed 1,000 Care Innovations Guides to members with congestive heart failure.  While it's too early to quantitatively measure the results, Humana Cares is optimistic about the program's effectiveness. The program achieved high patient adherence rates – 80 percent by members who opted to have daily biometric measurements taken. Humana also reports high patient satisfaction rates, including 94 percent of members saying the guide was easy to use, 90 percent reporting they felt more connected to their nurse, and 93 percent saying they would recommend it to their friends.

This type of involvement from payers brings significant value not just to the provider and patient, but also to the payer. The delivery of monitoring services to patients at home has the potential to improve outcomes, reduce complications and hospitalizations associated with chronic diseases, lower costs through substitution of homecare for inpatient care and increase caregiver efficiency. For this reason, it makes financial sense for payers to become more involved in the adoption of telehealth.

How will the patients themselves influence the adoption of telehealth? How could this affect their relationships with providers?
Patients have a lot of influence and can play a large role in the adoption of telehealth, as evidenced by certain trends in the pharmaceutical industry. Much of the clinical evidence today that proves the close connection between telehealth programs and improved outcomes and reduced costs are fragmented snapshots. Yet, as more patients enroll in telehealth programs and become involved for longer periods of time, providers will obtain the strong evidence base they need to make the investment and adopt the technology.  

Telehealth will positively impact the patient-provider relationship. Using the technology, patients can be more active in their own health experience and educated about their behaviors. This helps patients feel like true partners with their healthcare teams. Telehealth also has the potential to improve both patient satisfaction and loyalty. As patients are exposed to telehealth technology, they appreciate the flexibility, the potential to achieve better health outcomes and the peace of mind it brings, knowing that everything is OK and someone is always there if it is not.  

How could a telehealth program improve the typical small physician practice?
The benefits of telehealth extend to physician practices of all sizes. First, it creates new flexibility and supports coordination of care by allowing physicians to more easily provide care from wherever they are, collaborate among healthcare team members and consult with other physicians. Second, it improves the delivery of care by enabling more efficient and effective monitoring of a patient's health for more timely intervention and care. Third, it improves physician and patient recruitment and retention by enhancing their current service offerings with new value added features. And last, telehealth enhances physicians' confidence in their ability to manage their patients' care because it can make it easier to ensure therapeutic regimens are carried out and fully engage patients to take care of themselves.

How could a telehealth program improve the typical mid-sized to large hospital?
Telehealth helps improve mid-sized to large hospitals in many of the same ways as it improves small physician practices, but in addition to those improvements these hospitals see improvements in the efficiencies of their processes and in their revenue stream on a grander stale. Telehealth can help reduce the number of transfers between hospitals and travel time for staff delivery of clinical services, education and more. And telehealth can impact hospitals' bottom lines by expanding their referral network to include rural hospitals, long-term care facilities, community clinics and correction facilities. By adopting technology solutions like telehealth, healthcare organizations have an opportunity to plan for more effective and efficient operations and meet the escalating demands of today's rapidly changing healthcare environment.


User login