According to the American Telemedicine Association, Telemedicine has been around for almost 40 years, but its value today became clearer and started to rapidly spread in many countries because it carrier a lot of benefits, solves serious problems, and has much to offer than what meets the eye. To highlight its importance, the USDA recently announced funding to 81 Distant Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) projects in 32 US states. These projects will help connect rural communities with medical experts in other parts of the country, increasing access to health care, substance misuse treatment and advanced educational opportunities.
With up to 50% cost saving versus standard physician visits, Telemedicine offers a win-win situation not only for patients by saving costs of doctor offices, booking beds and rooms in hospitals, or for doctor visits at home, but also for hospitals by leveraging existing staff to expand their service territory.
Telemedicine allows patients everywhere access to specialties that are typically rare in supply and especially in rural area. This eliminates distance barriers while providing better services in many specialties like in-home monitoring of congestive heart failure patients, dermatological care for conditions such as rashes, and mental healthcare for example. Patients are already reaping the benefits of Telemedicine, with about 20 million people in the United States receiving healthcare that included telemedicine in in 2015.
Telemedicine also adds an essential and convenient layer of triage to patients in remote and rural areas, it allows doctors to focus on urgent or life threatening cases requiring immediate attention. Patients with non-critical cases can get the required care from a specialist without having to travel unnecessarily for extended periods of time.
Improving communication is quintessential to advancing Telemedicine, the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality found that ineffective communication among healthcare providers is one of the leading causes of medical errors and patient harm, with communication failures implicated at the root of over 70% of sentinel events in a review of reports by the Joint Commission.
Despite the myriad of benefits, Telemedicine is not simple to implement, with multiple challenges and barriers that hospitals face, fortunately Skype for Business and DIY Skype Room Systems have emerged as the solution to most of these hurdles.
Training Physicians and Medical Staff
In an earlier post, we talked about how to increase user adoption of Skype Room Systems, and physicians and medical staff are no different than enterprise users. DIY Skype Systems like Room 4 offer a simple, easy, and intuitive user experience with one-click to join meetings, and with a familiar user interface to the popular Skype – there really isn’t much to train physicians on. They can simply walk into the exam room, and click on a scheduled meeting on the calendar to join the Skype call.
Infrastructure and IT Burdens
Traditionally, Telemedicine required a significant investment in specialized video conferencing hardware, telemedicine carts, telemedicine equipment and infrastructure, but the rise of DIY Skype Room Systems made this obstacle a thing of the past. Today, for as little as $999, hospital IT departments can install and deploy Telemedicine rooms in just a few minutes. And with support for Skype for Business Online (Office 365) that DIY Skype Room Systems offer, investing in on-premises Lync or Skype for Business servers is no longer required.
Traditional Telemedicine equipment from Telemedicine companies like AMD Global Telemedicine can cost anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 for a single Telemedicine site inclusive of communication platform, video conferencing, packaging design, and user training. In contrast, DIY Skype Room Systems like Room 4 start from as little as $999, and do not require any specialized equipment, a basic computer monitor and a USB webcam and microphone are all you need to install and deploy your first DIY Telemedicine Skype site. If your hospital doesn’t already use Microsoft Lync or Skype for Business, you can get started with a Skype for Business online (Office 365) license from just $2 per user per month.
Ready to start building your DIY Telemedicine Skype system? Click here to learn more about Room 4.