March 7, 2016 | HIMSS16 Report- Telehealth & EHRs Driving Care Conversation

The Wellbox team was at HIMSS16 this past week, and with another year of healthcare’s biggest HIT conference in the books, it seems prudent to look at which prominent technology trends made waves with the diverse attendee group of providers, vendors, and everyone in-between.

After surveying the Exhibit Hall and speaking to countless individuals, it’s safe to say that there is a palpable excitement growing around telehealth services and the belief that this technology may be the “missing link” in population health efforts. In fact, a HIMSS16 survey covered by Health IT Consultant showed that of 105 key healthcare leaders, 57.6% have already investigated significant resources in telehealth systems.

However, the biggest HIMSS insight may be this: An increasing amount of providers are realizing that telehealth’s effectiveness begins and ends with the EHR’s ability to comprehensively document patient care.

Further, the push towards increased interoperability means that the capacity of these systems to “speak” to one another will be a major key towards breaking down our siloed healthcare system and facilitating true care collaboration-i.e. An emergency room doctor viewing the last six month’s worth of CCM patient calls to inform their diagnosis.

This emphasis on patient records might seem like cause for alarm, as the past several years have seen healthcare overcome by EHR fever- whether it’s been ARRA back in 2009, complications with the Meaningful Use Program, or even the recent MACRA announcement that has many providers thinking: “Here we go again.”

However, nearly all healthcare providers have invested major time and resources into creating EHR systems that can be used to simply document treatments, with not many utilizing the ability of this technology to truly impact the financial bottom line and patient outcomes.

As such, telehealth represents a clear opportunity to gain measurable ROI from their considerable investments, and most importantly- improve the care of patients in critical populations who need consistent monitoring to prevent readmissions and unnecessary ED visits. To do so, EHR vendors and telehealth providers must work together to facilitate the seamless integration of these technologies, and by doing so will ensure that their value to the healthcare industry is readily apparent to all stakeholders.

As the fervor at HIMSS16 demonstrated, telehealth is quickly picking up steam and moving beyond its long-standing place as a niche healthcare option. If properly utilized and integrated with leading EHR vendors, these services could facilitate effective and timely interventions that work to solve some of the biggest healthcare questions that have eluded answers for far too long.


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