Telehealth is the newest Buzz word in healthcare and technology with recent events causing a push for adoption in patient care virtualization. Here is a breakdown of Telehealth/ Telemedicine, the changes in implementing and adopting the Technology and how Colocation will play a critical role in this patient care solution.
What is Telehealth Technology?
Telehealth is the culmination of expert care.. anywhere and at any time. It bridges the distances to bring together the medicine, people, and technology needed to provide medical care by telecommunications and electronic delivery of medical expertise.
With recent nationwide initiatives to social distance and a push for virtualization across all industries, Telehealth Services are becoming a (temporary) required service for healthcare providers across the country. In the past, concerns with Telemedicine solutions included HIPAA compliant practices, data storage and security, insurance coverage for visits, and patient accessibility.
Enter COVID-19. The response to the pandemic created a rush for state and federal emergency healthcare regulations and guidance across various areas, most of which will clearly be in place only for a limited duration. However, most expect the temporary changes specific to Telehealth,to accelerate into long-lasting regulatory mandates and developments that encourage the continued use of Telehealth Technology. The Telehealth landscape was already developing in some organizations with the potential for more widespread implementation and the pandemic will continue to create a springboard for Telehealth and Telemedicine solutions to progress rapidly in adoption and continue to mature in implementation long after the pandemic – creating opportunities to improve patient care as well as create additional revenue streams for providers. Add in the the recent push for changes and movement in regulations, the variety of new platforms and solutions available to healthcare organizations, and providers will be able to have their choice of Telemedicine solutions. These benefits have policy makers, insurance agencies and healthcare professionals advocating for a permanent place in healthcare for Telemedicine.
As noted by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension as of June 2020, there have been 31 federal policy changes enacted since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to expand access to Telehealth. Smith is among several lawmakers pushing for many of those changes to be made permanent – and in a way that furthers equity for the most vulnerable populations.
Will Telehealth & Telemedicine be here to stay?
BlueCross was the first major insurance company to commit to covering in network Telemedicine services throughout the pandemic and confirms they will continue the ongoing adoption of this technology.
“Telemedicine allows access to care during work hours in lieu of taking an entire day off.It can allow for follow-up interactions with high-risk patients who may be negatively impacted by sitting in a waiting room.” - Dr. Andrea Willis, senior vice president and chief medical officer at BlueCross
Although Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements are not specific to Telehealth, Telemedicine services can bring about unique issues for HIPAA privacy compliance. Expect things to go back to "normal" after the pandemic with respect to HIPAA enforcement. Thus, data privacy and security will continue to be important as the telehealth landscape continues to develop, including with respect to the security of service locations and emerging new technology platforms. Once the crisis has passed, covered entities and business associates involved in Telehealth encounters will need to make sure they have complied with all of HIPAA's requirements, including making sure that business associate agreements are in place with third parties that are creating, receiving, maintaining or transmitting protected health information on behalf of a covered entity.
Telehealth providers should be prepared to exchange data in a secure manner that complies with the prohibitions on information blocking. As providers and patients get used to the convenience and other advantages of certain kinds of remote activity, it is likely that demand for Telehealth platforms will persist even as the crisis abates. In this way, there is a high probability that expanded Telehealth activity will be "sticky," like many other remote working innovations that have recently come to greater prominence. That stickiness will probably be accompanied by an even greater regulatory interest in cyber security matters, especially if the trend of sharply placed cyber crime during a crisis continues to rise.
How Can Colocation Play a Critical Role?
Colocation services offer the solid foundational data center space for healthcare compliant technology and virtualization, internet bandwidth to act as a hub to support electronically delivered medical services.
Providing diverse expert medical assistance where it is needed, regardless of location, decreasing patient risk, while increasing speed to consultation is critical. As identified by healthcare providers and insurance companies, the benefits have become abundantly clear as a path to reduce delays for patient treatment, and enhances the patient experience. By using colocation and data center's like bigbyte.cc as a hub for medical information technology, groups will be able to provide consultation wherever and whenever it is needed while keeping risk of patients at a minimum.
Additionally, colocation provides the data center environment and stability that organizations require for many of the technology based services that will becoming more prevalent in healthcare going forward:
• Site to site education • Videoconferencing • Streaming media • Data warehousing • Imaging and patient files storage • Archiving • 100% Uptime Guarentee to avoid interruption in critical remote healthcare operations.
bigbyte.cc’s infrastructure will allow deployment of IP based cyber medicine systems across multiple locations. You can provide expedited and more affordable patient follow-up while avoiding costly travel time.