Technologies Impacting Telehealth Adoption
With TED hitting the road and travelling to Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) locations across the U.S. to spread awareness for telehealth solutions, we’ve asked our TED partners to give us their input on the trends and issues that are driving telehealth adoption. We recently asked Rich Amador, Manager, Applications Support at Canon to give us his thoughts on the future of telehealth. Here is what he had to say:
Q: Telehealth is really gaining traction as a viable and important method of providing medical care. In your opinion, what have been some of the tipping points helping to prove telehealth’s value and position it for future growth in the commercial healthcare spaces?
A: As recently as ten years ago, remote teleretinal imaging capture, store and forward projects were significantly hampered by computer processing speed, network transmission bandwidth technology limitations and digital retinal imaging camera and software technologies. DSL lines were often the only affordable means to transmit data remotely. To enable data transmittal, images were often captured at low resolution and compressed so the data could be transmitted into a network in a reasonable amount of time. Today, many of those earlier limitations have been overcome with the advent of new advanced imaging and software technologies, affordable high speed computers and high speed network infrastructure.
Clinical imaging protocols and care pathway reporting software systems have been developed and incorporated into performing teleretinal imaging in primary care settings. This has greatly enhanced the quality and growth potential for teleretinal screenings. The VA, Indian Health Services and Federally Qualified Health Care Centers have all been referenced in publications as having successful clinical track records involving their teleretinal screening programs for diabetes. The requirement now to begin sharing patient information among primary care physicians, specialists and hospitals within an Accountable Care Organization or “like” organizations to manage costs and quality of care will have a positive influence on the advancement of telehealth preventive screening programs.
Q: Can you share some best practices around telehealth that medical facilities should be taking into account or gearing up for as telemedicine moves towards increased acceptance in the commercial sector?
A: Best practices involving Diabetic Retinopathy teleretinal screenings can be attributed to the Veterans Administration National screening program that began in 2006 and now involves over 800 plus locations. They have a unique DICOM-centric scheduling, capture and reporting software platform that has now screened over 1.3 million patients with diabetes. The screening program utilizes a systematic standardized pattern of retinal imaging using high resolution non-mydriatic retinal camera technology that does not require pupil dilation. The images are then transmitted from the camera’s computer workstation into the VA’s VistA Imaging DICOM storage network. The system notifies the reader of incoming images which are then read and graded by practitioners in a timely manner. Based on the report findings, the patients are then triaged and scheduled accordingly for eye examinations at VA Eye Clinics. One of the key ingredients to the success of these programs is that the examinations are conducted in a primary care, outpatient clinic or other non-eye care setting. In these settings, veterans are able to more easily schedule quick teleretinal imaging sessions rather than waiting for appointments at very busy eye clinics.
To learn more about the Canon technologies that are on the TED truck, visit ted2go.com.
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