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3 Key Takeaways from TTAC’s National Telehealth Showcase

This year the National Telehealth Technology Assessment Resource Center’s showcase delved into the emerging opportunities in telehealth. The virtual summit featured telemedicine use case scenarios and discussions with industry experts and solution providers. Tryten was proud to be invited to participate in this event!  

If you didn’t get to attend, read on to learn three key takeaways from the insightful and informative keynote and panel sessions from leading telehealth experts.  

Digital health is a cultural transformation.

Although digital health has been around for a while, it gained more prominence and widespread adoption because of the pandemic. But what does “digital health” really mean? As The Medical Futurist Dr. Bertalan Meskó, Ph.D., outlined in his keynote presentation, “Telehealth is not just a technological gimmick! It is going to become an essential component of healthcare in the future, especially after the pandemic winds down.” 

3D printing, self-driving cars, or exploring planets are made possible thanks to technological advancements. Dr. Meskó advises that we must also harness digital technology to improve access and quality of healthcare. However, he shines a light on some significant hurdles we must overcome:  

  • The idea of healthcare not being open to innovations because of doctor shortages, lack of trust, and lack of money 
  • Requiring more time and energy to discover and adopt modern technology  
  • Fear of the unknown  

Automation and AI are profoundly impacting the efficiency of healthcare processes as doctors and researchers use these technologies to lower costs, analyze data, and improve the overall quality of care. As a result, Dr. Meskó acknowledges that “digital health is not a technological revolution, but a cultural transformation. Yes, it was initiated with the advancements of technology, but they do not drive it.” 

Digital health also leads to the democratization of healthcare as technologies provide both patients and doctors access to digital data and a new way to make decisions together. By creating an equal patient-doctor relationship, telehealth not only empowers patients, it also puts them at the center of healthcare – exactly where they should be.    

Dr. Meskó concludes by emphasizing how to build relationships with patients through digital health: 

  • Involve patients at the highest level of decision making  
  • Learn to allow technologies to augment healthcare processes 
  • Give patients quality care and keep them at the center of healthcare  
Telehealth bridges the gap between healthcare and health equity.

Tryten’s Dr. Deb Jeffries, Chief Strategy Officer, was thrilled to see so many of the ‘Pioneers of Telemedicine’ at the event. “So many wonderful people have worked hard for many years to develop and enable the delivery of telemedicine and telehealth. Their efforts helped us respond during the pandemic and will help guide us into the future of patient-centred equitable care.” 

Telehealth is a critical vehicle to meeting needs in rural and underserved areas that do not have the depth of healthcare resources available in more populous urban areas.  

In the keynote presentation, “Keys to Creating a Successful School-based Telehealth,” Utah Education and Telehealth Network described the telehealth kits they provide to rural schools. These telehealth kits consist of tablets with keyboards, Bluetooth-enabled assessment devices, and documentation to help school nurses connect students to remote primary care practitioners. UETN’s telehealth kits enable students to receive better physical and mental healthcare. 

Dr. David C. Rhew, the Global Chief Medical Officer & VP of Healthcare for Microsoft, identified some of the latest trends and opportunities in digital health. One of the trends he recognized was health equity. In his research and clinical practice, he identified disparities of care. Across the globe, individuals in developed communities recognize they need healthcare and then access it by visiting hospitals or doctors. Unfortunately, most underserved communities don’t realize they need care and don’t even have the resources to receive it.  

While deploying vaccination clinics to underserved communities through technology, Dr. Rhew identified mistrust between these communities, the health system, and science. Individuals in these communities were not exposed to a transparent system to gain access to the correct information. As Dr. Rhew and his team shared the correct information, they empowered these individuals and helped them become primary advocates for vaccines. These individuals then brought their friends and families to healthcare events and connected to local healthcare providers through virtual visits. Dr. Rhew recognized that technology was the backend support for providing care. “With every interaction and immunization, technology was required to send electronic health records or immunization registries.”  

What is the future of telemedicine?

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the urban-rural divide when it comes to broadband internet access. Garret Spargo, Director of Telehealth Product Development at Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, believes “broadband has become critical to pursuing “The Big 3” – Vocation, Education, Healthcare.” According to Microsoft, more than 120 million people lack access to broadband in the US.

So, what is the solution to this issue? 

TTAC and ANTHC have started the Telehealth Broadband Pilot Project. A $6.5 million HRSA grant has been awarded to TTAC and another $1.5 million to the Telehealth-Focused Rural Health Research Center at the University of Arkansas to launch the program. This three-year pilot program will provide funds for improving broadband connectivity in rural areas of Alaska, Michigan, Texas, and West Virginia to support health programs. 

Mark VanderWerf, a recognized thought leader in telemedicine and digital health discussed Crystal Ball, a “think-tank” project that identifies the leading technologies and applications that will impact healthcare in the next three to five years.   

Expanded applications and use of telemedicine/ digital health solutions such as… 

  1. APPS, EHR integration/ data management, BioWare/Biosensors 
  1. Virtual and Augmented Reality 
  1. Drones 
  1. Robotics 
  1. Wearables  

In the next few years, these technologies and applications will play a significant role in changing the face of telemedicine. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are an essential part of all these technologies and applications. As the Medical Futurist Dr. Meskó mentioned, efficient healthcare cannot be achieved without the use of automation.  

This year’s TTAC event enhanced our view of the telehealth landscape and gave us the opportunity to learn from industry experts. With an increasing number of innovations in the field, telemedicine is no doubt poised to continue to influence evolution in healthcare delivery.   

Here at Tryten, our passion and mission are to make a difference in the healthcare space through thoughtful, responsive, flexible cart designs, and partnerships. We strive to inspire the future and make the world a better place by making premium customizable mobile carts that are as beautiful, simple, and clever as you deserve.