POV   |   February 08, 2018   |   Lou Silverman

Recent Past as Prologue: What 2018 Has in Store

As a marketplace leader in telemedicine since 2006, Advanced ICU Care has played a meaningful role in the continued evolution of the healthcare ecosystem. As the pace of change quickens and the scope of transformation and innovation widen, the successes of 2017 suggest a busy and progress filled 2018. Here is our outlook for the coming year.

Telemedicine Delivers

By leveraging technology to deliver clinical expertise to patients irrespective of geography, and by facilitating a care model that delivers proven clinical outcomes with positive ROI, telemedicine continues to evolve from an innovative curiosity to an important standard of care for increasing numbers of systems, institutions, and specialties. Chronic shortages of clinical specialists and well-documented demographic trends can’t be outrun. The same is true for the desire of patients and families to receive care as close to home as possible.  Telemedicine is increasingly viewed as an answer to some of healthcare’s most important questions.

We Can’t Do Everything Ourselves

Collaboration with outside experts and providers will move closer to becoming a norm and not an exception.  “Not Invented Here” will get decreased play in our healthcare system. Partnerships of all shapes and types will continue to accelerate in 2018 in search of delivering improved value and clinical results. If there is a path to efficiently enhancing outcomes, “if” increasingly gives way to “when.”

Product? Service? It’s all a blur…..

Driven by competition, the promise of Big Data, the desire for client “stickiness” and market share, and the need to create a business model with staying power, traditional product and device players will look to add technology-enabled services to their current offerings. The resulting growth of “As-A-Service” and monitored offerings will continue to blur the distinction between products and services, a trend that end users will welcome as combined offerings broaden the reach of telemedicine and expands the value equation for med tech players.

Actionable Analytics

Converting the growing surplus of data and overwhelming number of alerts into actionable activity and analytics is one of the increasingly-recognized benefits of many telemedicine programs. Better data drive better outcomes. We see continued aggressive pursuit of both. Telemedicine is both a catalyst and a facilitator in achieving these dual goals.

Innovation 1 – Status Quo 0

The economics of healthcare have always mattered, regardless of the for-profit or not-for-profit distinctions between hospitals, as every hospital had to find a way to cover its costs. The need to cut costs, preserve revenues, reinforce margins and generate ROI will be more central to the healthcare discussion than ever before.  Dramatic mergers between peers (e.g., CHI and Dignity), unexpected partnerships (e.g., Aetna and CVS), new initiatives that generate unlikely alliances, and established sector partners taking on “out of sector” challenges have begun and will likely continue and accelerate.

Government Might Really Be Here to Help (!)

The government as a partner in progress! After too many years with modest assistance from state and federal governmental agencies, the increased consideration and adoption of enabling legislation, expanded reimbursement opportunities and overall acknowledgement that thoughtfully embracing telemedicine is a positive for all constituencies is very much in the news. The long-lived pillars of increased patient access to care, improved clinical outcomes and increased efficiency are alive and well – and success in achieving them is being seen through increased utilization of telemedicine services.

A Safe Choice

Numerous telemedicine specialties and models are sufficiently well established, such that the value proposition and clinical benefits are neither speculative nor experimental. Clinical and delivery models continue to evolve and proof points are significant and well documented. Operating models continue to be well defined and expertly refined. Rewards are high. Risks are low. Benefits are increasingly embraced by patients, families, bedside clinical staff and administrators.

As is true with any similar outlook, the only thing certain about projecting these trends is that there will be significant surprises. While these appear to be potent drivers of change to the healthcare environment for the foreseeable future, some will develop more slowly than anticipated, while unforeseen ideas will develop to become impactful trends. Regardless of the degree of accuracy, the challenge is to understand, adapt and drive forward, as Advanced ICU Care has been proudly able to do since caring for its first tele-ICU patient over 12 years ago.

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