Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Telehealth Helps!

... and have you taken your pills today?
Are you in the "telehealth" business? 

Do you sell, buy, broker or provide remote monitoring, telephonic follow-up, internet-based patient management, handheld health apps, video-support or home-based medical devices? 

Then you'll probably want to download this 32 page paper.

Bashur and colleagues set out to review every good (defined as any controlled study with a valid concurrent comparison group with at least 150 study subjects) research paper on the impact of telehealth on three conditions: heart failure, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

177 references later, their conclusion is that telehealth - over a broad range of patient types (age, illness severity and co-morbidities), level and intensity of patient participation, provider types (nurses vs. physicians with or without an explicit protocol) - increases quality of care and reduces unnecessary utilization. 

In other words, telehealth is substitutive.  It doesn't add to inefficient services, it replaces them with something cheaper.

The Population Health Blog already knew that, of course, but it's handy to have an authoritative text that catalogs every published study.

What the PHB didn't quite know:

The official definition:

Telehealth (e-health, mobile health, m-health), connected health) is the delivery of healthcare via information and communication technology.

Telehealth jargon: when you launch it, make sure you have:

1. Fidelity (use in an appropriate setting with optimal strength and integrity),

2. Maturation (the technology may not have fully integrated personnel, other technology and patients to achieve maximum efficiency) and

3. Bundling (where the technology is vulnerable to how other concomitant supporting services are configured.

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