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UCC-enabled telemedicine is just what the doctor ordered

July 23, 2018

UCC-enabled telemedicine is just what the doctor ordered

Changes in the healthcare market over the past decade have created amazing opportunities for IT solution providers. With today’s strong focus on improving patient care and outcomes, IT investments aimed at lowering costs, making healthcare more accessible and increasing the effectiveness of treatment will get the attention of healthcare decision makers.

One technology segment that’s particularly appealing to healthcare professionals is telemedicine or telehealth. A report published earlier this year by Market Research Future estimates that the global telehealth market will grow at a CAGR of 29.8% between 2018 and 2023. There’s no reason you can’t be a part of that growth.

Implemented many ways, telemedicine essentially utilizes videoconferencing to connect patients with health professionals. This makes it easier for patients to seek and receive treatment, regardless of where the parties are physically located. While the most basic form of telemedicine is merely a videoconferencing setup, the fact that it’s a healthcare application adds some complexity.

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) exists to protect patient information and privacy. Any videoconferencing solution will require end-to-end encryption and adherence to security standards to comply with HIPAA regulations. Some videoconferencing solutions will already claim to meet HIPAA standards, and some will also provide a Business Associate Agreement required for HIPAA. In short, make sure whatever you put together addresses security and privacy.

Video applications, like Skype and Facetime, although popular, lack the necessary security and features to be acceptable for healthcare applications. Patients will be required to use purpose-built telehealth solutions located in doctors’ offices, hospitals and other controlled locations. As costs decline, telehealth solutions will be more readily available in home settings.

On the more complex spectrum of telemedicine exists solutions that integrate medical instruments. One of the more common examples is a blood pressure monitor. The patient can slip their arm into the monitoring device, and the doctor can view the results on their end. Additionally, blood glucose monitors, pulse oximeters, ECGs and weight scales can be integrated. With creativity and some skill, many medical devices with USB, Bluetooth and RS232/RS422/RS485 connectivity can be integrated to create compelling telehealth solutions.

Other uses of telemedicine

Due to limited time, many doctors’ offices rely on telephone-based triage nurses to evaluate the seriousness of a patient’s situation and document symptoms for the eventual appointment. Some doctors and triage nurse services have switched to videoconferencing, which allows nurses to more effectively evaluate patients.

Also, it’s important to note that telemedicine extends beyond physical well-being. Psychiatrists are also embracing videoconferencing tools to provide mental health services. Because psychiatrists can only bill insurance companies if they see the patient, telemedicine opens a new avenue of patient care. Additionally, veterinarians have also seen the benefits of using videoconferencing to connect doctors and specialists.

Don’t miss the opportunity

These types of videoconferencing solutions are a great way to expand the value you provide and help health professionals improve outcomes, lower costs and increase the scope of their offering. Contact Ingram Micro’s UCC experts, Curt Vurpillat or Chad Simon, to get started today.