As media sponsors for the ATA Fall Forum, held in Washington, DC this past week, we had the pleasure of sitting down with the current ATA President, Dr. Reed Tuckson. In this exclusive interview, Dr. Tuckson shares with us the big trends in telemedicine, current challenges and what he expects to see in the near future for health it. Read the full interview below:
Future Healthcare Today Editors: During your time as ATA president, telemedicine has made big strides. What are some of the trends you’re observing?
Dr. Tuckson: The trend we are most excited about is the increasing interest in health it from both the consumers and the delivery team. Both ends of that dyad are critical.
We realize now health it is moving to the mainstream in how it’s being engaged and integrated into clinical delivery systems. And that’s really exciting! We’re no longer viewed as this interesting, extra outlier. Instead, telemedicine is becoming more integrated into the central paradigms of how clinical care is delivered.
Similarly, we’re also seeing a great deal of interest on the part of the consumer. With the uptake of clinical applications on our cell phones, iPad and tablet devices, consumers are beginning to engage in monitoring their own health. These services are paving the path to other consumer applications and even more sophisticated telemedicine engagements.
Now that we’re seeing an uptake on the delivery side and on the consumer-patient side, it demonstrates a momentum that health it is really fully born.
FHT Editors: There are still challenges to wide-spread adoption of health it. What are some of the hurdles that exist today?
Dr. Tuckson: One hurdle is educating the American physician community and other health professionals about what to expect from these tools. We must look at how to best use these tools to provide optimal quality and cost-effectiveness of care. In addition, we want to make sure the delivery system is most appropriately engaging with their patients in the use of these tools so the patient-physician relationship is as robust as possible.
There are also fundamental issues that are creating challenges to wide-spread adoption, such as broadband coverage. It is very important that all of America has the technical capacity to have access to betterments of health it engagement.
The third item as a barrier is reimbursement. We have to make sure we are giving a favorable environment to reward physicians and delivery systems for the appropriate use of health it services that drive up quality and bring down costs.
And lastly, we are looking closely at what happens in our State Medical Boards and the ability to make licensing across states as cost-effective and efficient as possible. We do appreciate the professional responsibilities of state medical boards. They have a very serious responsibility to protect the health of the citizens of their states. But we want to make sure there is an opportunity for physicians from multiple states to get licensed.
FHT Editors: Recently you were part of United Healthcare’s development of a national health it network. It was created to serve rural, underserved patient populations. Tell us about this and some of the lessons learned along the way.
Dr. Tuckson: United Healthcare and other insurers are taking a leadership role within the private sector by recognizing the health it opportunity and providing access to quality and cost-effective care.
United’s leadership has been very important because there are no companies that are more focused on value, and demand value from every part of the delivery system, whether it’s technology, pharmaceutical or clinical care delivery, than United. They’re at the top of the list, along with major colleagues, that are demanding value. So for them to adopt health it and to see this as a way of providing quality, cost-effective care sends a very powerful signal to the rest of the Nation at a time when we really needed it. So I’m pretty excited about that!
FHT Editors: With 2016 fast approaching, what’s next for health it? What do you expect these programs to look like in the future?
Dr. Tuckson: I believe we will see greater progress on the integration of telemedicine services inside of the delivery system. And we will better engage patients who are using these tools and integrate that patient experience inside of the traditional clinical encounter. Next it’s all about disseminating best practices of how to best use these tools to enhance what health professionals do while encouraging patients to take more control over their own health.
It’s exciting when you think about what the next few years will be. As health it goes mainstream, the delivery system over the next couple of years will increasingly focus on new reimbursement models that reward and demand quality and cost-effective outcomes. As that occurs, the incentives to use health it will certainly go up. And as all of this happens, people will focus on now how to make best use of these tools; how to make best use of these new capabilities to deliver the value they have to prove to get reimbursed for their services.
Simultaneously, we will see greater maturation of the patient centered movement and consumerism in healthcare as patients begin to have more and more financial skin in the game for the decisions they make. As they are being incentivized, encouraged and supported as they are taking more responsibility for their own care, both prevention and clinical, then they will be seeking these tools as well.
It’s going to be very exciting how that occurs over the next few years and how individual healthcare choices and behavior choices will be modified based upon the interactions with the health it innovations, both prevention and clinical care.