HuffPo: Is Telehealth the Answer to Health Care Reform?

Telehealth may be the answer to transforming the United States’ health care system, says a recent Huffington Post column on the possible impact of the Affordable Care Act’s implementation.

There’s no guarantee the system will respond well to the massive health care reform bill, writes Brian Rosenfeld, a physician and the chief medical officer for teleheatlh at Philips Healthcare, and the country may need to rethink its care models. 

“[W]e must do more with less,” he says. “Telehealth, or technology-assisted remote care, offers the opportunity to provide the access, quality and cost that will be necessary to increase prevention and leverage our current workforce.”

With 32 million more Americans now eligible for—and expected to buy—health care insurance and millions of boomers aging into retirement, the country’s care delivery system is expected to undergo a massive strain. But a preventive approach using telehealth could present a solution.  

Telehealth-driven intensive care units could allow one intensive care specialist and three critical care nurses co-manage up to 150 ICU beds across hundreds of miles, Rosenfeld envisions, covering nights and weekends when specialists aren’t at the bedside. 

“This leverage is enabled by sophisticated algorithms and data presentation modalities that help the care team identify at-risk patients and intervene to prevent complications,” he writes in the Huffington Post column. “This improved access results in better outcomes and cost savings, and this model must be extrapolated across the entire care continuum.”

Similar methodologies utilizing two-way audio-video and physiologic monitors could translate into other settings, allowing home health nurses, health coaches, pharmacists, and physicians to remotely monitor hundreds of patients and contacting them in their homes to change medications or suggest lifestyle adjustments, he says. 

“As we begin to implement integrated telehealth, it is clear that this is an important step forward for American healthcare,” Rosenfeld concludes. “While the ACA catalyzed the movement towards better care models, there is still much work to be done to remedy our strained systems because business as usual is bad for our health.”

Read the full column. 

Written by Alyssa Gerace

Alyssa Gerace

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