In an era when some of the most vulnerable citizens in our country rely on the federal government for their healthcare and medical services is there a way for IT to be put to work to ensure quality of service delivery and patient outcomes? Based on evidence from Vietnam, the answer is a resounding yes.
A recent case study released by Polycom, a leading provider of video collaboration technology, shares the story of the remote province of Quang Ninh in Vietnam, which implemented a telehealth program to ensure that citizens could access quality care despite their isolation from Vietnam’s major cities.
To help address these challenges and deliver better patient care, the Quang Ninh Department of Health created a sophisticated healthcare delivery system via a telehealth network combined access to 24 hospitals and community healthcare centers. The healthcare teams use video conference for meetings, training and mentoring, as well as patient care in areas such as surgical guidance and follow-up care. An unexpected benefit of the telemedicine program was the role that these collaboration technologies played in assisting medical teams during the frequent weather-related natural disasters – including hurricanes and flooding that batter the province. By using video conferencing, medical teams are able to share protocols and communicate more effectively to ensure that the affected area receives appropriate support. The end result is that many lives have been saved and budgets conserved while the level of medical care provided to the remote communities of Quang Ninh has improved significantly.
How then, could these same collaborative technologies be applied to federal agencies in the United States? The Department of Veterans Affairs has trialed telehealth services in supporting the provision of care to veterans who are unable to make it to a VA hospital or care facility to receive treatment. And, just this past week, the Congress authorized the Department of Defense’s request to leverage telemedicine services for active duty personnel and veterans under TRICARE. Moreover, the 21st Century Cures Act, signed by President Obama on December, 13th 2016, contains provisions for greater use and integration of telemedicine services by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. As assessed in the National Law Review, “the legislation, if enacted, would require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to report to the committees of jurisdiction in the House and Senate on the current and potential uses of telehealth in the Medicare program.” And these two use cases don’t even begin to consider the application of telemedicine by agencies, such as FEMA, to support the delivery of medical care during natural and man-made disasters.
Are you interested in learning more about Quang Ninh’s telemedicine program? You can download a case study here. If you’re interested in learning more about tech tools that enable collaborative endeavors like telehealth you can find more great resources at Workspace Today