Virtual care — and the shift away from hospital and practice-based care — is one of the fastest growing trends in healthcare these days. Both patients and providers are seeing new opportunities to engage beyond the confines of the clinical walls with a connection that transcends the limitations of a face-to-face appointment. Alan Snell, MD, MMM, healthcare IT consultant and former CMIO at St. Vincent Health/Ascension Health, recently took some time to chat with us about the current state of telehealth and the evolving role it’s playing in patient care and health management.

What’s behind the upsurge in telehealth? Alan says one of the driving technologies is mobile, combined with growing wireless accessibility. Individuals are also becoming more willing to adopt mobile devices for their health, including senior patients who are adopting technology at an increasingly rapid rate. Alan identifies the biggest telemedicine trend resulting from this in the healthcare space right now: virtually connecting patients in their home setting. From remote monitoring to education, staying connected with patients in this way (especially those with chronic conditions) offers major advantages. “You know quickly if they begin to deteriorate, can provide early intervention and can ultimately avoid an ER visit or hospitalization,” he explains.

But in addition to greater access to a patient’s vitals and other important health data, and easier intervention, there’s something bigger at work — patient engagement. And this, Alan says, is what is really capturing the emotions of both patients and physicians, and is where the real benefits of telehealth lie. With the shifting landscape of reimbursement now tying care to financial risk, readmissions and outcomes, healthcare organizations are seeing telehealth as a growing opportunity for cost avoidance and improving patient satisfaction.

What are the biggest challenges healthcare organizations face in moving toward more virtual care solutions? And what other big trends will be transforming healthcare in 2015? Check out our Health Tech Report to learn more.

Get more information on CDW Healthcare’s telehealth solutions.

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