Every month more than 250,000 Americans turn 65, according to a recent article and as the population gets older, the need to embrace cost-effective healthcare solutions continues to grow. One of those solutions is telehealth. A leader in the adoption of telehealth is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the largest healthcare system in North America. Its telehealth services are growing 22 percent each year and that number is only expected to get bigger.
In 2003, VA entered the telehealth field with a Patient Viewer application that enabled clinicians to search and view a patient record, access laboratory data, medications and more. Over the years the VA has continued to enhance their web-based applications, and with the recent acquisition of ResolutionMD, soon clinicians will have secure web and mobile access to patient images regardless of their location.
Mobile access to images is a key factor in delivering the best care possible, as 45 percent of veterans reside in counties classified as rural. Using mobile technologies to help physicians gain quicker access to patient information can have a dramatic impact on the time it takes to diagnose those who live greater distances from major city centers. And with few rural hospitals having specialists on-premise, there is the added telehealth benefit of quickly connecting city-based specialists with local caregivers to provide rapid and at times, life-saving diagnosis.
Just as the VA is a leader in the use of telehealth services, all healthcare providers need to take a hard look at implementing telehealth strategies as nationally, close to 30 percent of Americans live in rural areas. This will help alleviate healthcare costs for an aging and geographically dispersed population and provide patients better care through quicker and efficient access to the best possible caregiver.