Telemedicine is a big business; by 2025, it has been projected to exceed $64.1 billion in the U.S. alone. Televisits to doctors have increased at an extraordinary rate of 50% per year over the last decade and the current COVID-19 Shelter-at-Home requirements have changed everything. The Pandemic has forced primary care and specialty clinicians to adopt virtual care and telehealth so patients can still receive care while social distancing and medical resources can be redirected to the frontlines of treating COVID-19 patients. Because of this, the U.S. telehealth market is expected to reach around $10 billion by the end of 2020 with an 80 percent year-over-year growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to recent reports.
Video and other forms of technology are increasingly being used in hospitals. In 2017, three quarters of hospitals in the U.S. were connecting with patients and other practitioners in this way, more than double the percentage in 2010. The total Global number of televisits per year is approaching 10 million. But…is telemedicine cost effective, is it time saving…and most importantly is it as effective as an inpatient visit…and where do we place the boundaries around this emerging field. Some policy makers define telehealth as using technology so medical providers and patients can work together to improve health. Perhaps that is a little broader than saying “telehealth is the use of technology to deliver care to a patient without the physical presence of the treating physician”.
It makes sense that when doctors and patients are more connected in real-time and patients become more engaged in their healthcare decision-making process there can likely be better care outcomes, less return visits to the hospital, happier patients, and more profitable medical organizations. So…how do we separate the hype from the hope? Well obviously, we talk to a real expert, and not a virtual expert…we talk to Dr. Jay Sanders
Known to many as the “Father of Telemedicine”, our guest on this episode, Dr. Jay Sanders was responsible for developing the first State-wide telemedicine system, the first Correctional telemedicine program, the first Tele-homecare technology, called “The Electronic House Call”, and the first Telemedicine kiosk. His consulting activities have included NASA, DOD, HHS, the VA, the FCC, State Governments, the Southern Governors Association, WHO, academic institutions, investment firms, Fortune 500 companies, and International Governments. In 1994, he introduced telemedicine’s capability to the Assistant Secretary of Defense that culminated in the initiation of the use of this technology within DOD. He was subsequently asked to serve as the sole civilian representative on the DOD Telemedicine Board of Directors with the Surgeon Generals of the Army, Navy and Air Force. During the Clinton Administration he represented the USA to the G8 nations for telemedicine, and was appointed by former HHS Secretary Leavitt, to the Chronic Care Workgroup.
Dr. Jay H. Sanders, is the CEO of The Global Telemedicine Group and Professor of Medicine (Adjunct) at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
As the world holds it collective breath and faces the fear and uncertainty of a “silent enemy” that has turned the world upside down, companies have had no choice but to develop work-from-home structures to keep their organizations running and support employees as they follow social distancing guidelines. Over half of U.S. employees (75 million workers) hold jobs and have responsibilities that could be performed, at least in part, from home. Most of us would never have said we could function alone in our living room…but it turns out that we can. We keep hearing the phrase, “no one ever thought this could happen”…but of course people have been thinking of these things for a long time.
Before the pandemic and subsequent government requirements mandated us to be at home, only 4% of the workforce actually worked from home. And before the devastating pandemic, although 70% of employers would offer work at home options to some employees, only 7% offered it most of their employees. Likely, now that the world has been working from home in mass, things are going to change. We are not as convinced that we need to sit together to be effective. There is something incredibly scary about that realization…particularly if it is true!
Folks that have been thinking about whether working at home is functional are as shocked as we are that around the globe, within just a few months, over a billion people have functioned from home…running businesses, doing their jobs, ordering food…basically every facet of life, it turns out, is accessible from home… once the misery is over…will this be a tipping point? A new normal? Are the futurists who dreamed of these days ready for the reality?
The only way to successfully drag ourselves out of this disaster is with courage. The courage to lead when we know how, the courage to follow the right leaders and the courage to persevere. Courage will define whether we are successful. The new normal is also going to require us to become even more innovative. The only business culture that will have even a chance of survival shift will demand a commitment to creating a culture where individuals are more empowered to contribute to the overall mission of the organization by speaking up and being heard.
If ever someone skated to the puck and wrote about the tools and ideas for tomorrow’s challenge, without actually knowing that tomorrow would become today overnight, it is this episode’s guests. Karin Hurt and David Dye have written about their approach to organizational success: A Courageous Culture. According to Karin and David, there is a breakdown in organizations that stifles innovation. Employees have ideas and leadership is interested in these ideas but somehow, there is a disconnect. Karin and David believe that the collective effect of thousands of small opportunities missed because employees didn’t speak up when they realized something wasn’t working or didn’t share an idea because they worried that it might not be a good one, creates opportunities for failure. They believe that eliminating the safe silence that results from not speaking up and not contributing to the mission of the organization can help organizations thrive and innovate. Perhaps working from home will empower the silent innovators into active participation?
Just before the CIVID-19 pandemic paralyzed the world, Innovation Unleashed had the opportunity to sit down with Kristen Finne, the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services, emPOWER Program in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. At that time, we were not yet talking about this specific disease outbreak but we were talking about Kristen’s work as one of the dedicated public servants who work around the clock to ensure that, for example, our health care system can respond to a sudden tidal wave of need. Preparing for how such events might impact the old, frail, and disabled communities. She is one of the people that we rely on in an emergency, but who we hope we never need.
The relevancy of what was discussed with Kristen, on that day, has certainly taken on new meaning and significance for all of us as we are sheltered at home deciding about the right timing for returning to work and life with COVID-19 as part of our new normal.
Health officials, health care providers, emergency managers, and first responders have always worried that they did not have access to enough accurate information that could help them respond to the needs of at-risk populations in their communities. So, just a few years ago in the US the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response was established by the Federal Government to make sure we were ready. The emPOWER Program was launched to get the data to the right people at the right time. And we are talking about a lot of data and the skills to understand what it means before and after a disaster. Public health stakeholders can now use the program’s national, data-driven tools to support targeted emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation activities for more than 4.1 million at-risk Medicare beneficiaries.
This kind of massive data mining and essential information delivery does not just happen. The need was urgent for a long time before the innovations necessary to respond effectively. What were the challenges in gathering the information? How did politics impact the data science? Where were the biggest gaps in knowledge? What can be learned from the barriers to progress to speed responses in the future? One of the best ways to get answers to those and other compelling questions would be to go right to the top.
In this episode, Kristen describes how she spends her days assessing disaster-induced stress on the health care system and develops interventions to mitigate health system surge and adverse health outcomes for at-risk populations. Kristen leverages federal health and innovation technologies to provide Medicare data, maps, tools, training and products to inform and support federal-to-community level emergency preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation activities for electricity and healthcare dependent beneficiaries that live independently and may be adversely impacted by a disaster.