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May 28, 2020

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.