One challenge with healthcare is figuring out when people alone can produce the best healthcare outcome for the patient, or when technology can do the job better.
Or a combination of the two.
We present, as an example, a three-year Department of Defense study involving pediatric care in the Pacific Rim. The DoD wanted to see if physicians who consulted with pediatric subspecialists online regarding consultations, treatments and so on, could improve health outcomes for young patients while saving the DoD money. The conclusion: Yes on both counts.
The study, conducted between 2006 and 2009, looked at more than 1,000 tele-consultations in community hospitals from the area, including Guam and South Korea, often in areas where pediatric subspecialists are not available. Most of the tele-consultations, 75 percent, came from these areas.
Because the doctors spoke, the diagnosis and/or treatment plan was changed for 74 percent of the children – preventing patient transfers to other facilities between 12 percent and 43 percent, saving American taxpayers between $208,283 and $746,348 each year – not to mention saving the children and their families unnecessary expense and concern. The study authors said the number of “tele-consultations has grown significantly since 2006.”
It didn’t take long for the Twitter world to react to this study. One tweet [Feb. 8, 8 p.m.] asked if healthcare pros who don’t use telemedicine are negligent; another [same time] said Alaska and Hawaii are teaming up to extend telehealth to remote locations in those states.
The straightforwardness of this study, and its convincing outcomes, dispels the healthcare challenge this particular problem presented. That is why we wanted to bring it to your attention. If only all things were this simple.