Real Time Communications Featured Article

Americans Are Ready for Telemedicine and Home Health Care Technology

April 21, 2015

One of the great promises of real time communications – Web-based standards and tools that allow people to communicate across browsers without needing to download anything – is telemedicine. Millions of Americans live in rural areas with limited to access to healthcare (and even less access to specialists). For some individuals (think: people who don’t drive, who are elderly and have no ride, or who are uninsured), healthcare portals that offer a basic evaluation by a provider over a browser can be of enormous benefit.

Americans seem to think so, too, and both service providers and patients are using these portals. According to a recent study commissioned by eClinicalWorks and conducted online by Harris Poll, 84 percent of people say their doctor’s offices have a patient portal. Of those whose doctors do have a patient portal, adults over 55 are more likely to access their health information via this tool than adults aged 18 to 54 (61 percent versus 45 percent).

Patient portals may include live real-time evaluations via video between care providers and patients. They can also offer prescription refill requests, test results, self-reporting of home testing (blood sugar, for example, or pain levels) and even a way to transmit the data from wearable medical devices from patients to healthcare providers.

via Shutterstock

In several U.S. cities, telemedicine portals are being used by 911 services to cut down on the number of non-emergency cases using emergency services (for a cough, for example, or lingering mild pain in an extremity). These portals can be used to provide patients without doctors or community resources access to qualified medical help. In other cases, they can be used to put patients in touch with their own doctors, saving time and money for both by eliminating a physical visit to the office.

“In order to advance care, consumers need to be engaged with their own health and with their physicians,” said Girish Navani, CEO and co-founder of eClinicalWorks. “The survey results validate what we have strongly believed, that people are invested in and want to be engaged with their health and wellness as long as they trust the source of the information. We are confident the innovative technology delivered through healow will assist both consumers and the medical providers in bringing care to the next level.”

Home health technologies such as Real Time Communications, patient portals and wearable medical devices are becoming big business, according to a new report from Tractica, which found that consumers utilizing home health technologies will increase from 14.3 million worldwide in 2014 to 78.5 million by 2020.

Key factors driving interest in home healthcare technologies include rising healthcare costs, aging populations, and a rise in the number of people living with chronic diseases,” says principal analyst Charul Vyas. “However, significant challenges remain for the industry to solve, including regulatory issues, data security and privacy, and technology interoperability and integration issues.”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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