Dr. Deborah A. Jeffries (Dr. Deb)
Director of Healthcare Sales, Revolve Robotics
Dr. Deb uses her 25 years in medicine, patient care, education, physics, telemedicine, and information systems to assist customers
At this time of year, I think about the many things for which I am thankful. Friends, family, good health and a great horse (my exercise partner). Recently, I saw the announcement of the passage of the ECHO bill (S.2873) and this made me realize how lucky I am to have been in the healthcare/telemedicine industry for the last 15+ years, and how happy I am about the success of Project ECHO. I was originally introduced to the community of healthcare providers who supported and pioneered what was then referred to as telemedicine (now we also think of telehealth and collaborative care) when I joined AMD Global Telemedicine, and attended my first ATA. I met remarkable, dedicated passionate people who worked to bring the best care to those who were remote, rural and underserved.
Many of the big telemedicine programs were well represented at the annual ATA (American Telemedicine Association) meeting, including the folks from the ECHO project (which originated in New Mexico).
Over the years I have attend the annual meeting and enjoyed seeing friends and building new relationships at the event. I was privileged to meet so many kind and amazing people who were working very hard to bring necessary medical services to areas in need of specialty services and expert consults. Patients and services were frequently separated by distance and availability. Telemedicine was a way to connect experts over video to those who were without local care or expertise. In the early days, the network was shaky, the equipment was expensive and hard to use, and the reimbursement landscape was a quagmire.
Today we still face challenges, but there has been a shift in the healthcare model and many tangible technology changes that better enable us to bridge the gap in care, remove geographic limitations and support collaborative healthcare teams. We now have:
- more reliable widely distributed networks
- simple cost effective cloud based video (ex: Zoom, Vidyo)
- affordable mobility based controllable endpoints (ex: Kubi)
In addition we have seen a shift to a patient centered, collaboratively based prevention and wellness oriented healthcare system. This shift is necessary to address the challenges presented by an aging population, skyrocketing cost of care, and the need for accessing a limited geographically dispersed base of providers/specialists. Given the advancement in networks, video cloud offerings and affordable endpoint control, we now see collaborative video used to support things like:
- transitional care
- home health
- patient education and preventative care
- education and knowledge transfer from experts at centers of excellence to practitioners in the field
- in addition to the traditional telemedicine applications like telepsych and telestroke.
Project ECHO is a great example of how you can use technology (cloud based video provided by ZOOM) to facilitate the transfer of knowledge from the hub based experts to the front line primary care providers to deliver cost effective, accessible care. The providers feel more connected, have access to the latest innovations and best practices, and can deliver a wider service offering. This enables their patients to benefit from the expert knowledge in a timely fashion while avoiding travel and the inconvenience of leaving their community. Patients with complicated diseases like CHF, COPD, Diabetes, Pain management, Hep C, HIV, the list goes on and on, can receive the care they need, when they need it and from their community based provider.
Dr. Deb Jeffries