Video Conferencing can Help Stop the Flu

On January 17, 2013, in News, by iocom

 

As the flu keeps spreading in vast areas around the country, hospitals and healthcare officials are trying to do everything they can in order to stop it, even if it means forcing workers to receive the vaccine.

This may sound drastic or even aggressive on the healthcare system’s part, but if you take into account the US is one of the most intense areas in the world right now being affected by the flu, you might change your opinion.

According to the charts from Google Trend Data, on a worldly spectrum , the US is currently experiencing the most intense flu activity. It also shows the flu has reached the highest levels we have ever seen.

With epidemics like these being brought to the attention of our healthcare system and government, it seems that technology is taking the reins to create solutions that could ultimately help solve health concerns.

Instead of 15 nurses and hospital staffers been being fired from their jobs over the past few months or the flu reaching such heightened levels of activities, healthcare could be using one of the newest creations in technology to help end the flu crisis, like videoconferencing.

Sometimes people physically can’t go to a doctor’s office or they may have personal issues that hinder them from seeking medical attention. Whatever the case, video conferencing eliminates the problem of distance by allowing a doctor to help a patient from their home without any physical interaction. In cases like ones the US is currently facing, it can help contain the flu or any epidemic that is underway by containing it in a household or designated area.

There is already highly advanced optimal video and audio quality that can be used to produce the most natural doctor-patient interactions. If video conferencing could help decrease medical costs, there’s no predicting how many lives it can help save or protect from becoming ill.

Source

HIPAA Compliant Video Conferencing for Telemedicine

On December 3, 2012, in News, by iocom

IOCOM delivers HIPAA compliant telemedicine software to healthcare institutions worldwide. By using video conferencing solutions, healthcare institutions are able to collaborate, hold meetings with offsite individuals, and exchange data without the time and cost of travel.

Healthcare organizations using IOCOM have experienced great improvement in efficiency, participation, and collaboration results. Research institutions have also used IOCOM to unite researchers worldwide for regular collaboration sessions, speeding up their studies, and reducing the need for travel.

Organizations using IOCOM include:

  • West London Cancer Network
  • National Health Service (UK)
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

All IOCOM solutions offer full capabilities on all standard computer systems, from conference rooms to laptops to medical carts.

  • Visimeet has been used to save lives, quality of life, and decrease lifelong medical expenses through quick response care
  • Off-site specialists can provide consultation without traveling
  • Visimeet transmits data in its original form, colors are not altered
  • Affordable solution that cuts costs
  • Used for stroke care, Oncology collaboration, EMT, hospice, and other medical needs
  • Share microscope feed and any other sources with a VGA/HDMI/DVI output
  • Visimeet can be on the Cloud or a private server
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In 2013, health care organizations not meeting readmission rate standards will be penalized 2% of their total annual Medicare reimbursement. Providers understand that many of these readmissions are avoidable and are looking for new and effect ways to prevent them.

Click here to view an in depth study on how three different institutions successfully reduced patient readmission’s.

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Telemedicine to go high tech for aged care

On November 1, 2012, in News, by iocom

University of Queensland researchers have received a grant for almost $1 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council to conduct a four-year study into the use of telemedicine in residential aged care facilities, involving a web-based clinical support system and clinical-grade video conferencing technology.

The Centre for Online Health (COH) and Centre for Research in Geriatric Medicine (CRGM) joint study, led by the centres’ director Len Gray, is a randomised control trial that will see videoconferencing technology deployed as a mobile wireless device at the resident’s bedside and operated by a geriatrician from a remote telemedicine studio.

The main aims of the study are to investigate the potential to reduce transfers to emergency departments and reduce transport costs, as well as improve access to specialists, prescribing practice and the quality of care for residents.

Professor Gray said it is the most extensive trial of telemedicine ever undertaken in residential aged care worldwide. Because of the complex nature of illnesses among residents, the study will focus on conventional or “clinical-grade” video conferencing equipment.

“While video conferencing with PC-based systems works well for general conversations, it is still of insufficient reliability and quality for clinical diagnostic work,” Professor Gray said.

“Clinical-grade technology is essential when performing a consult with an unwell or frail older person. Conventional video conferencing allows the user to control the camera with better precision, compared with a smaller, hand-held camera.

Our systems enable detection of subtle eye movements, observation of mobility patterns and reading of fine print, through the remotely controlled pan and zoom functions. The need for this quality of video is important for working in nursing homes, where there will often be no medical support at the patient’s end.”

The trial will also involve a web-based clinical decision support system, built by the centre over the last decade, which has been used in hospital care for older people. It uses a structured assessment overlaid with a number of processes to help interpret clinical observations.

“The web-based support system has been trailed successfully in about 10 hospitals, so we are confident that we can use the same concept and modify it for long-term care,” Professor Gray said. “We’ve found that not only does it work, but patients like it.

“The desire for telemedicine is greater in residential aged care than in hospitals, where facilities are isolated and it’s often a struggle to get health professionals to visit them. Although the technology is a bit more expensive, residential care providers have indicated that the cost is not a major barrier to them in terms of affordability.

Telemedicine needs to be performed often – and systematically – to ensure that it is affordable and effective. As usage increases, the cost will come down.”

Residential aged care facilities are entitled to an on-board incentive payment through the Department of Human Services along with Medicare item numbers for each consult, but Professor Gray said many facilities had already invested in video conferencing equipment to provide education for their staff.

“The unique benefit we have is that we go to the patient’s room,” Professor Gray said. “Taking a patient to an office with a conventional video system means the resident is disrupted. We’ve found that it is more efficient and a better experience for the patient when we go directly to the patient’s bed.

“You give yourself maximum flexibility if you have mobile wireless and high-definition video. The price will dramatically reduce over the next five years, but we suspect it’s already sustainable with a small investment from the facility. Many facilities are enthusiastic about this telemedicine model and see huge potential for their residents and staff.”

The project will also involve the design of telemedicine studios at participating geriatrician’s hospitals. Again, most hospitals have some type of video conferencing technology, but this project will involve running long sessions for the geriatrician with several patients, as well as other specialists such as psychiatrists.

“The studio will be like a doctor’s consulting room but with better acoustic treatment, different lighting and correctly configured video systems. It has to be comfortable and have access to computers to review x-rays and other medical reports.”

The trial model involves a geriatrician being affiliated with each facility, who provides weekly video consultations. This offers add-on benefits besides having regular access to a specialist.

“What we are trying to do is create relationships between the geriatrician and each facility. If the geriatrician is attending a facility regularly in a virtual capacity, he or she will hopefully form a strong, working relationship with facility staff.

The benefit of these relationships is that processes and protocols will be better understood and implemented, as well as providing the in-house staff with support and extra skills. It is good for families too, in that their GP will have some specialist support.”

Visiting GPs will also be invited to participate in the model, he said. “We will put forward a proposal to GPs that a specific geriatrician will be present at a certain time to discuss patients, and he or she will welcome discussion.

“It has to be efficient for the GP. To interact directly with a specialist requires complicated scheduling, which is difficult. In an ideal world, over time, GPs might be happy to do their nursing home rounds at the same time the geriatrician is there.”

The trial will involve 10 residential aged care facilities, five allocated as a control group and five intervention sites. The control group will conduct business as usual in the first year, with telemedicine-enabled geriatrician sessions offered to the intervention group. After the first year, the control group will be offered the opportunity to use the telemedicine model.

“We will be able to compare things like how many people are transferred to the emergency department from the home in that year with telemedicine and how many without,” Professor Gray said.

“We suspect that using telemedicine will reduce transfers by about 20 per cent. There are many possible benefits to geriatric patients and to the facilities that care for them. This study will critically examine all of those ideas.

Source

Download here

In 2013, health care organizations not meeting readmission rate standards will be penalized 2% of their total annual Medicare reimbursement. Providers understand that many of these readmissions are avoidable and are looking for new and effect ways to prevent them.

Click here to view an in depth study on how three different institutions successfully reduced patient readmission’s.

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Download here

In 2013, health care organizations not meeting readmission rate standards will be penalized 2% of their total annual Medicare reimbursement. Providers understand that many of these readmissions are avoidable and are looking for new and effect ways to prevent them.

Click here to view an in depth study on how three different institutions successfully reduced patient readmission’s.

Tagged with:
 

There have been many reports lately about the benefits of video conferencing, with solutions like Visimeet, in hospitals and healthcare, allowing physicians to communicate with their patients instantly and over long distances.

For the latest developments in those applications, we now have video conferencing for mental health, as the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia has undertaken a project to provide over a hundred video conferencing units.

As mental health specialists only show up a couple of times a month, crises are often made worse by the lack of available doctors. Specialists would have to travel long distances to reach facilities so they could see their patient, which makes things difficult for doctors and patients.

With teleconferencing, that’s no longer an issue.

Being able to speak face-to-face over long distances means mental health specialists can see and speak with their patients instantly when their services are needed. No more waiting for the patients, and no more long trips for the doctors; instant communication for instant assistance.

Being able to see the person you’re talking to can make all the difference.

“One of the areas where it’s really valuable is those times when you don’t have a specialist on-deck at the time that you’ve got a crisis,” said Geoff Harris from South Australia’s Mental Health Coalition. “If the specialist can actually see the individual then you’re likely to get a much better interaction. Nobody is saying it’s the answer to everything and obviously you need enough services on the ground but it’s a really important link I think for people, particularly as you get more remote in South Australia.”

This is another example of how telecommunications is helping people, perhaps even saving lives, all over the world. While it may not be a perfect replacement for human interaction, it certainly suffices in these situations, proving both convenient and helpful for the doctors and patients alike.

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Came across this great article from American Well on the impact of using telemedicine, with solutions such as Visimeet, in the healthcare industry.

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A growing number of third-party studies document how telehealth can positively impact the way healthcare is delivered. From acute care to chronic care for those living with diabetes, congestive heart failure or hypertension, a wide range of patient populations can benefit from telehealth.

Documented results using a variety of technologies – including American Well’s Online Care – demonstrate that telehealth is helping physicians and patients to:

Shift appropriate visits away from high-cost settings

  • 87% of acute patients would have gone to an urgent care clinic, had an office visit, or gone to a retail clinic if they hadn’t used telehealth¹

Reduce cost of managing chronic patient populations

  • $1,600 spent per patient/annum for patients using telehealth to support their chronic conditions, as compared to $13,121 per patient/annum for those using home-based primary care services, and $77,745 per patient/annum for those using market nursing home care services²

Reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions

  • 51% reduction in number of admissions among angina patients, after three months of discharge³
  • 19.7% reduction in hospital admissions among Veterans with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, congestive heart failure and post-traumatic stress disorder²
  • View our whitepaper on hospital readmissions here

Lower number of days spent in hospitals

  • 61% reduction in number of days spent in the hospital among angina patients, after three months of discharge³
  • 25.3% reduction in bed days of care (BDOC) among Veterans with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart failure and post-traumatic stress disorder²
  • 14% reduction in bed days among patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes heart failure and COPD⁴

Improve patient outcomes

  • 45% reduction in mortality rates among patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart failure and COPD⁴
  • About 69% of patients who had at least two live, interactive telemedicine consultations with dermatologists in a year saw clinical improvements.⁵

Improve access to care for remotely-located patients

  • 88% of physicians stated telemedicine effective for initial psychiatry consultations with their child and adolescent patients living in nonmetropolitan communities⁶
  • 86% of physicians stated telemedicine effective for follow-up psychiatry consultations with their child and adolescent patients living in nonmetropolitan communities⁶

Create high satisfaction among patients and providers

  • 90% of patients reported they were very satisfied or satisfied with the telehealth service, based on greater convenience, time as well as cost savings⁷
  • 89% of physicians willing to use telehealth again in the future⁶

Sources:

1 “The Doctor is Now Online.” Muller, S. Employee Benefits Planner. March 2011.

2 “Care Coordination/Home Telehealth: The Systematic Implementation of Health Informatics, Home Telehealth, and Disease Management to Support the Care of Veteran Patients with Chronic Conditions.” Darkins, A., M.D. et al. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Care Coordination Services. Washington, D.C. Vol. 14 No. 10.December 2008.

3 “Telehome Monitoring in Patients With Cardiac Disease Who Are at High Risk of Readmission.” A. Kirsten Woodend, MD, MSc, PhD, et al. Heart Lung. 2008;37:36–45.

4 UK Department of Health, Whole System Demonstrator Programme: Headline Findings. December 2011.

5 “Impact of Live Interactive Teledermatology on Diagnosis, Disease Management, and Clinical Outcomes.” Lamel, S MD et al. Arch Dermatol. 2012;148(1):61-65.

6 “Feasibility, Acceptability, and Sustainability of Telepsychiatry for Children and Adolescents.” Myers, K.M., M.D., M.P.H., Valentine, J.M., Ph.D., Melzer,S.M.,  M.D., M.B.A. Psychiatric Services. psychiatryonline.org. November 2007. Vol. 58. No. 11.

7 “Point, Click, Get Care: Online Care Brings Healthcare Directly to Employees at Work or Home.” Schoenberg, R. CHDC Solutions. March/April 2011.

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Telehealth: the benefits of video conferencing

On August 22, 2012, in News, by iocom

Great article from The Guardian on the benefits of using video conferencing solutions, like Visimeet, in the healthcare industry.

Every year, more than 200 infants are born in Northern Ireland with heart disease. I work at the Royal Belfast hospital for sick children and as specialists in paediatric cardiology, we deal with a majority of these cases. For the past few years we’ve been supplementing our traditional care with a telemedicine scheme that offers patients, parents and our colleagues a new way to interact.

Like thousands of hospital departments across the UK, we deal with resourcing difficulties. Not only do we cope with our current patient load but our expertise is also in high demand with colleagues at other hospitals.

Another challenge is providing outpatient care to children with complicated heart conditions who still require face time with doctors. Their homes are dispersed across a wide geographical area and these visits can be time consuming for both doctors and patients.

It was these two factors that lead us to try telemedicine.

Nurses, doctors, patients and parents are using it, so reliability, simplicity, and a having a personal interface are all really important. If it’s too hard to use or doesn’t always work people would just get fed up with it.

Outpatients who have recently been discharged but require ongoing monitoring are given a laptop equipped with in-built video conferencing technology. The parents then use this for regular appointments or, if they notice worrying symptoms, to contact the cardiology department

This means we can keep a very close eye on children with complex heart problems who are at risk of deteriorating quickly. We can even visualise data such as their oxygen levels on the screen as we talk over video.

Once you’ve seen the child via video conference, you can usually decide very quickly whether or not that child needs to come back into hospital. Parents appreciate this because it’s a point of contact – a physical image of the consultant right there in their home.

We always advise parents to come in immediately if they feel it is urgent, but many issues can be dealt with remotely.

We use telemedicine for a lot more than just remote monitoring. A programme has been set up that links Clark Clinic (the paediatric cardiology ward) with other hospitals in the region.

If a baby is born in another hospital many miles away, the local paediatrician can now scan the baby’s heart and transmit it to us via video conference, giving doctors at Clark Clinic a chance to provide an expert opinion on the scan images and help make an accurate diagnosis.

Both teams can examine the scans in real time while we go through other symptoms.

For children with heart problems, this is a very important development because making a diagnosis within the first 24 to 48 hours is often crucial to the outcome. Those who really need to come to Clark Clinic can come to us much earlier and those who don’t need to come can have the diagnoses excluded at a very early stage.

There’s no doubt in my mind this has saved lives.

Overall cost savings have definitely outweighed the expenditure of buying the system, but there’s more to it than that. It gives us a chance to share our expertise outside our own hospital.

The value we can add by offering patients and colleagues support like this is incalculable.

Looking forward we want to network with other hospitals and plan to extend connections to other regional hospitals, where there might be paediatric expertise but not in cardiology.

We want to do more with our home monitoring system in terms of its sophistication too. Hopefully, we can add even more physiological monitoring to go along with the laptop that would give us considerably more information about the patient. I’ve no doubt technology will develop even further in this area.

We have already begun some work on this. Children who are at home with a very serious condition and are on home ventilation could also benefit from telemedicine. To bring children in that situation into hospital can be difficult so being able to monitor them remotely can make a huge difference.

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In its on-going effort to provide the best care possible for our nation’s veterans, the Department of Veteran Affairs has put in place a new program to increase access to specialty care services for veterans in rural and medically under-served areas through the use of videoconferencing equipment.

Called the Specialty Care Access Network-Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes, the initiative, working through SCAN-ECHO, enables specialty care teams in diabetes, pain management and hepatitis C, to use videoconferencing equipment to connect with primary care providers and “patient-aligned care teams for veterans.”

The ECHO model links primary care providers in local communities with specialist care teams at academic medical centers to help manage patients who have chronic conditions requiring complex care. During a SCAN-ECHO session, the primary care provider presents a patient’s case and the specialty care team recommends a treatment plan. Formal clinical education is also provided to physicians.

The system uses video conferencing, similar to Visimeet, to conduct weekly virtual clinics operating like grand rounds at major teaching hospitals to educate doctors on the latest medical research and treatments, according to the Federal Telemedicine News website. In a SCAN-ECHO consultation, other primary care providers have the opportunity to listen to the discussion, ask questions, and learn from the advice given.

Project ECHO is not considered traditional telemedicine that pulls together a one-to-one remote connection between a doctor and a patient. No patient is ever actually seen during an ECHO clinic, but it enables primary care clinicians to gain new competencies to provide care that was not previously available in their communities.

Currently, there are “teleclinics” on hepatitis C, chronic pain, rheumatology, addictions, psychiatry, asthma, pulmonary care, cardiovascular risk reduction, high-risk pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, geriatrics, palliative care, pediatric obesity, and heart failure.

Eleven VA medical facilities are in pilot studies as SCAN-ECHO centers. Since May, 35 teams in 14 specialties have been formed, with 150 SCAN-ECHO sessions held and a total of 690 consults completed.

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