Over 75% of U.S. healthcare delivery organizations presently use a telehealth system in at least one of their hospital units, and telehealth growth is expected to continue as top health systems list it as one of four top priorities for the industry’s future. As the field that connects healthcare with technology, health informatics makes these developments possible, and professionals within this field are well-positioned for jobs created to meet this need.
What is Telehealth?
Using digital, computerized tools, telehealth is a means of connecting patients to service providers through vehicles like video conferencing, remote monitoring, and electronic consults in an effort to promote patient care outcomes and overall patient satisfaction. Due to the expansion of devices and app technology, patient demand for communication has never been greater. Healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs) are looking at how best to deliver the right care, at the right time, in the right place.
Healthcare Delivery Organization (HDO): An organization, or group of related organizations, that are involved with the delivery of healthcare services. A hospital is an example of an HDO, as are a group of physician practices acting in concert in an area.
HDOs are most commonly limited to two classifications:
- IDSs (integrated delivery systems) that represent groups within a health system like Mayo Clinic, Geisinger, or Banner Health
- Hospitals or physician groups
As more and more HDOs identify this delivery model as top priority, the industry is noticing a denser allocation of resources and administration to support the movement. For example, budgets and teams are expanding to introduce this innovative delivery of health to patients in need. These efforts aim to ensure telehealth and its advantages continue to become more mainstream. Included among the many benefits of telehealth are:
- Around-the-clock access to physicians and health care providers
- Remote monitoring functionality
- Less expensive and more convenient care, with fewer patients needing to leave home
- Improved care outcomes
A 2018 study conducted by Vidyo surveyed over 300 clinical and IT professionals to determine telehealth growth and need. One area of this study found that telehealth led to an increase of:
- 58% in provider satisfaction
- 51% in efficiency and timeliness of care delivery
- 7% to cost savings
Telehealth in Action: Banner Health
Many of the HDOs currently implementing a telehealth system have seen similar, if not better, results than their previous approach when reviewing the effectiveness of this digital resource. For example, Banner Health launched a telehealth program in 2013 that included patients with multiple chronic diseases. To be considered for participation, patients needed to receive treatment for five or more chronic conditions and accumulate a 12-month spend of more than $20,000. In order to track and measure the conditions and treatment, Banner Health exercised digital tools like video conferencing, web consultations, and distance monitoring.
After collecting over a year’s worth of data from 1,283 patients, the study resulted in a reduction of overall cost by almost 35%, hospitalizations by 50%, and the number of days in a hospital by 50%.
“Telehealth provides an amazing opportunity to change the way health care is delivered in the United States. Consumers are ready for this change, and health care organizations are starting to catch up to those expectations.”
Telehealth Growth Means Demand for Health IT Professionals
The potential, need, and excitement for telehealth rapidly grows year after year. Healthcare delivery organizations are accelerating their efforts to promote better patient care where and how the patient needs it.
To address this growing demand, health IT professionals are needed to actively work with physicians and providers to implement telehealth growth strategies. Health informatics professionals are proving to be a valuable resource for these organizations. Plus, they’ve proven to be more likely than a physician to:
- Report on telehealth tools and build sustainable project plans
- Capture and report on telehealth data results
- Stay current with telehealth trends
Presently, healthcare systems need these specialized health professionals as a strategic partner to ensure success. With global telehealth market share expected to reach $19.5 billion by 2025, HDOs are eagerly recruiting to be prepared for this development.
UNE Online: Health Informatics
At UNE Online, we partner our students with a personalized model of support and collaborative learning with field experts to produce career-ready professionals upon graduation. Our program is tailored to meet the needs of full-time, working professionals who are looking to advance their career and remain competitive in the field. The Health Informatics graduate programs include an unmatched focus area model that concentrates your studies on topics aligned with your career path.
Interested in becoming a health informatics professional to advance telehealth programs? Learn more about how to be part of the healthcare-technology solution by downloading our brochure on health informatics graduate programs. Start your future today!