James Ferguson: Success of Telehealth depends on new style reimbursement

The Clinical Lead of the Scottish Centre for Telehealth and Telecare (SCTT) presented  “Forget S.P.E.C.T.R.E, Mr Bond – S.L.O.T.H is the enemy!” at the event, Transforming Healthcare – Health Policy, Digital Health and Data Privacy: Who pays the bill? at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue. The conference, hosted by Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and Emory Healthcare, explored best practice, economics and digital security in the healthcare industry.

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Read a text version of the video below:

"The use of Telehealth technology is probably going to be in two main areas. The first area will be to improve in delivering diagnostics to individual patients in our existing acute health care system. Basically you'll be able to get your blood test and everything done at home. The second big area will be allowing the population to use their current technology, such as video conferencing on phones and that, to be able to access healthcare generally. That really means a revolution across the healthcare system.

It will be hospital based care who will transfer the location of delivering healthcare systems into the community rather than hospital based systems. However the long term delivery will be of healthcare and wellbeing directly into the patient's home rather than in secondary care facilities.

The person who delivers the Telehealth has to change their practice for the benefit of someone who is remote from their organization. Therefore a doctor working in the hospital by using Telehealth actually may not get reimbursed for that and it actually involves extra expense at the far end. Really, there's going to have to be a fundamental rethink of how we reimburse this, because actually you can get more patients treated by the individuals in the hospital if you use Telehealth. Basically you have to up the number of patients you'll treat, but obviously you won't have to spend so much because the patients will be treated somewhere else.”