February 17, 2014

As physician advocates, telehealth – connecting patients and providers remotely through video, audio, and monitoring technologies – is one of the most exciting frontiers in care delivery. The industry is facing a constant torrent of change and reform, but is also newly armed with tools that allow medicine to be practiced on the patients’ and providers’ own terms.

The opportunity to provide a more convenient and accessible healthcare system, as well a one that is more coordinated and efficient is at the core of all this telehealth excitement. A newly formed lobbying organization is putting some serious political muscle behind the idea, and their first step is to re-brand telehealth all together. Say hello to “connected care!”

Some of the benefits of connected care are:

  • Reduced costs for physicians and patients
  • Improved efficiency for physicians and patients
  • Greater access to physicians and other providers including evenings and weekends
  • Reduced time away from work for patients
  • Improved patient satisfaction
  • Greater choice of physicians/providers
  • Access to physicians while traveling for work or pleasure
  • Ability to bring others to the visit – out-of-state children, for example

The new term – introduced in an op-ed in the political magazine The Hill – and theConnected Care Alliance that is promoting it, is a more inclusive, approachable, and human label that is at the center of the Alliance’s mission:

“…formed to create a statutory and regulatory environment in which every medical provider in America is permitted to deliver, and be adequately compensated for, providing safe, high-quality care using Connected Care at his or her discretion, regardless of care delivery location or technological modality…”

Promoting connected care to a wider audience involves the goals of setting standards of care so that it can be reimbursed by insurance companies, ensuring there is sufficient technical infrastructure to handle the demand, and supporting innovation and coordination of care.

These have been goals of forward thinking entrepreneurs and providers for a long time now, but the CCA is bringing some real political muscle to the table. The alliance was founded by three former US Senators – two Democrats (Tom Daschle, SD and John Breaux, LA) and a Republican (Trent Lott, MI.) Daschle and Lott are former Senate Majority Leaders, the top position in the body.

Powerful leaders aside, the success of the CCA will be in how well it draws the potential out of connected care technologies – and how that leads to empowered patients and providers improving outcomes and quality of life.

As a patient or healthcare provider, what are your hopes and concerns for the future of connected care?

Mary Pat Whaley and Abraham Whaley are Physician Advocates and Consultants who are helping new and existing physician practices add Telemedicine/Connected Care to their practices. They blog at Manage My Practice; their LinkedIn Group by the same name is for those interested in healthcare management. You can contact Mary Pat or at (919) 370-0504.


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