Secure Messaging and Telemedicine
How secure messaging and telemedicine work better together
One of the technologies often overlooked in the exploration of how to improve telemedicine delivery is the provision of smartphone messaging. As one study out of Stanford Hospital noted, “the smartphone is one of the fastest growing sectors in the technology industry, and its impact in medicine has already been significant.” Yet to date there has been limited use of smartphones to increase the speed at which telemedicine is provided.
The utilization of smartphones has the potential to have a positive impact upon improved patient care through improved communication between hospital medical staff and enhanced telemedicine capability. The question left to answer then is how to encourage the adoption of smartphones in the provision of telemedicine. To answer this question, we look at the following points:
- Importance telehealth plays in providing healthcare
- Role mobile plays in providing telehealth
- How to improve smartphone adoption
Why is telehealth important?
When examining the uses of telemedicine, much attention is often paid to neurology as the impacts of using telemedicine in neurology are so stark in this field of medicine. Indeed, teleneurology is of greatest benefit to populations in rural areas with restricted access to general and subspecialty neurologic care. The cause of this reality is that in neurology, time is brain and consequently the delivery of rapid treatment is vital.
If teleneurology is properly available in these cases then the outcomes could and would often be quite different. When treatments are administered within the first few hours by a qualified specialist, it has been shown to reduce mortality and improve prognosis in stroke patients by 30%. The first 60 minutes after the onset of stroke symptoms is crucial to begin treatment in order to minimize long term disability or avert stroke death.
Barriers to implementation of telemedicine
Despite the obvious benefits of telemedicine and evidence that remote patient monitoring can play an important role in improving patient outcomes, a recent audit from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Medicare’s payment and coverage restrictions are largely responsible for holding back progress and access to telehealth services.
Medicare still has restrictive rules for telehealth payment. Insurance provider and technology trade groups are stepping up their lobbying efforts to pass legislation that will force Medicare to provide greater financial support for the service. With the existing rules and legislation, it becomes very difficult for a physician in one state to provide care to a patient in another state due to reimbursement rules.
How can secure messaging and telemedicine improve telehealth delivery?
Telemedicine needs to consciously adopt the use of a secure, HIPAA-compliant messaging platform to ensure that telemedicine provides immediate care for patients in rural and non-rural communities alike. By doing so, patients and healthcare will see numerous advantages.
Improve immediacy of care
At present, doctors in telemedicine are often alerted to the need for their medical services via pagers. The issues with alerting doctors with pagers have been well documented. With pagers, it is difficult to know if the recipient has actually received the page or not. Additionally, pages can be blocked by existing infrastructure and delay the response of the physician in charge.
By using smartphones and hipaa compliant texting, physicians can transmit health information securely and simultaneously use the video conferencing capabilities for clinical assessments. In a state like Arizona this advantage becomes abundantly clear as more than 40 percent of the population doesn’t have access to immediate neurologic care.
Mobile improves outcomes
As has been discussed in the case of teleneurology, time is brain. Every second for which care is delayed equates to the death of brain cells. If, however, digital communications are used to ensure a rapid response then delivery of tPA could be delivered much more quickly.
We hope that this blog has highlighted the advantages that can be accrued by increased adoption of telemedicine and secure digital communications. To read more about the ways that secure messaging and telemedicine work together, download our whitepaper.