4 Posts that Prove Telehealth is Far From Dead

Is telehealth dead? The question isn’t new. In recent years, many health care commentators have proclaimed the demise of telehealth. We find this odd, given that experts continue to forecast explosive growth.

Consider this Accenture report from 2016, which predicts that telehealth will be a billion dollar industry by 2018 in the United states. This finding came as no surprise to us at Aetonix. Everyday, we see how the connections between patients and health care professionals are strengthened by communication technology.

So what’s the real reason that many in health care believe telehealth has past its expiration date? The answer might have to do with past associations with the word. For a lot of people, “telehealth” just sounds dated. And to be fair, some commentators merely argue that telehealth as we’ve known it is dead. It’s certainly true that the technology has evolved.

For many patients, the term is familiar. Say “telehealth,” and most people immediately know what you’re talking about—the delivery of health care through telecommunications technology. As fas as we’re concerned, this means the word is still useful.

While debate over terminology continues, one thing is certain. The concept of telehealth has never been more relevant. And there are plenty of Aetonix posts prove it. Here are four of our best.

Scaling Home Care Services With Telehealth

The health care environment has changed. In recent years, care has been shifting out of hospitals—and into patient homes. This trend is especially strong in Ontario.

It makes sense. Home is where patients want to be. And when it’s appropriate to do so, treating them in the community can result in major cost savings for the health care system. That said, this practical shift poses new challenges for home care service providers. Scaling up is one of them. Without unlimited resources, how can providers meet the growing demand for care?

In this post, published in October of 2016, we looked at the ways that telehealth can help.

5 Reasons You Health Care Team Should Revisit Telehealth

We’re well aware that telehealth has been around for decades. But that certainly doesn’t mean it’s useless today. At Aetonix, we believe there’s never been a better time for health care teams to revisit this vital concept.

Why? Because the health care landscape has shifted dramatically—making at-home care the best option for a larger number of patients. New telehealth technologies are the best possible solution for providing this care. Why else? Because today, telehealth is truly patient-centred, in a way it never could be when technology was less advanced.

For more reasons why telehealth deserves a closer look, you’ll have to read this November, 2016 post.

Nurses Supporting Nurses: Collaborative Home Care With Telehealth

Telehealth is all about delivering care through telecommunications technology. While the most obvious scenario features a health care practitioner communicating remotely with a patient, there’s another possibility. It centres around nurses helping nurses.

As home care delivery expands, it’s increasingly common for a generalist nurse to deliver care under the direction of a nurse with expertise in a particular area. This is where telecommunication technology comes in. Through realtime videoconferencing, a nurse in the community can receive immediate support from a fellow practitioner.

In this post, from December of 2016, we highlight the benefits of home care collaboration over isolation—and the role communication technology can play.

5 Ways Information Technology Can Improve Home Wound Care

As the number of patients with chronic and complex conditions rises, so too does the demand for wound care. Wounds cost out health care system $3.9 billion annually. Needless to say, this is a significant problem—one that often arises in the community.

Many patients who live at home require specialist expertise. The most efficient way to deliver this expertise is via telehealth technologies. Most commonly, a wound care expert will coach a home care nurse through a procedure remotely. This process extends the reach of specialists in the field.

In this post, published May, 2017, we delve further into the concept of nurses helping nurses. we look at the specific ways that videoconferencing and mobile technology make superior home wound care possible.

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COPD Education – Onboarding

Objective

To complete a thorough needs assessment / initial evaluation for a COPD patient of an outpatient clinic

Actors
Patient, Educator (Nurse, RT, the Physician could also be the educator)

Timelines
One 60-90 min session with the Educator

Description
  • This protocol should be established for all COPD patients from a given clinic, independently of whether they are new patients or they are known to the clinic. This protocol is the basis to engage the patient into other protocols such as education, exacerbation follow-up, etc.
  • We need to identify patient goals/concerns to guide the interventions
  • A thorough evaluation is carried on, with the objective of understanding where the patient is on their disease journey and follow-up treatable traits: dyspnea, exacerbation or dyspnea and exacerbation.
  • It includes the use of objective questionnaires such as the mMRC, CAT, HADS, Frailty Scale, etc.
  • Identify if the patient needs to be referred to other resources (e.g. Physiotherapist, social worker, occupational therapist)
  • Once Onboarding is completed, the patient continues to the COPD Education workflow
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COPD Education – Continuous Maintenance

Objective 

To cover in depth all the necessary elements of self-management education as per the LWWCOPD, with priorities based on patient goals and identified treatable traits

Actors
Patient, Educator (Nurse, RT or Physician)

Timelines
A number of “Core” educational modules have been identified which cover the basic COPD education from the LWWCOPD program. Additionally, optional modules can be used to respond to patient needs. The timeline (frequency, number of modules to be covered at a given education session) is fully customizable, although we recommend to have education sessions every 2-weeks during the “active” phase of education. Once this is completed, the patient continues to the Maintenance Mode (see below).

Description
  • Launched at the onboarding protocol
  • Provide basic overview of COPD self-management based on LWWCOPD (medication adherence, inhaler techniques, PLB technique & energy conservation) up to the development of an Action plan for early exacerbation recognition and management.
  • Prioritize self-learning by the patient (e.g. watching videos, reading educational materials, completing homework) in addition to live sessions with the Educator. Educational materials are sent to the patient directly via the platform, and become the patient’s own library. The Educator can customize which “homework” the patient receives.
  • Educators have access to “User guides” to standardise their educational intervention. These user guides include: objectives, interventions, suggested questions, evaluation of self-efficacy, and learning contracts for each module.
  • Once the core education is completed, the patient can continue to the Respiratory Status Follow-up Workflow (run in parallel)

The Maintenance Mode
  • As soon as the maintenance mode is engaged, the frequency of visits Educator/Patient is reduced to once every 6 months.
  • During the Maintenance Mode sessions, the educator has access to all the education modules and can choose any piece of content that needs to covered with the patient. 
  • A streamlined evaluation (similar to the initial eval.) is done during each “maintenance” visit to identify any substantial changes on the patient’s needs that will require some adjustment. The patient could come back to an “active” education mode (more frequent education sessions, e.g. every 2 weeks).
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COPD Respiratory Status Follow-up

Objective

Monitoring of stable patients from a clinic in order to identify early any aggravation of symptoms (exacerbation) and implement an action plan

Actors
Patient, Educator (Nurse, RT or Physician)

Timelines
Scheduled regular automated follow-up to the patient symptoms. Intensity/Frequency can be adjusted by the Educator depending on patient needs (e.g. daily, every week, etc.). Ongoing through the year.

Description
  • Launch: Patients who have completed the Core Educational including setting-up an action plan.
  • Regular automated questions allow to identify any change in patient’s symptoms and severity.
  • If an exacerbation is detected the patient gets a reminder to engage their self-management strategies while waiting for the Educator to call back.
  • An alarm is generated for the Educator, so they immediately call back the patient. At this call they will evaluate any further intervention required and schedule additional follow-up.
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