Judging by the freezing rain hitting my window pane and the darkness that comes at 430 pm, it is evident we are coming to the year’s end here in Seattle. As always the approach of a new year brings a great number of predictions and I don’t mean the kind that are derived just out of hope, but out of reality. A quick Internet search produces many real 2016 telehealth predictions; some are witty, honest and steadfast, others more conservative. However one common thread not to ignore is the ever increasing benefits of telehealth and the great strives by the US Congress to regulate and support such. For instance there are 17 telehealth bills pending in the Senate and 21 in the House; from excise tax on medical devices to the “VETS Act to improve the ability of health care professionals to treat veterans via telehealth…” The 114th Congress ends in January 2017 so the progressive reality of telehealth to have a presence in your healthcare entity is undeniable and if such already exists it will be more palatable.
Another common thread in my searches is the statement: 2016 will be the Year of Telehealth. It is easy to believe this statement without any gullibility especially after experiencing first hand the steadfast innovation of telehealth over the last few months of 2015. Coupled with the readmission penalties, competitive advantage, telehealth parity laws, quality reporting outcomes incentives, and transformation of rural care it is no surprise that this statement is used liberally. Furthermore every year it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find skeptics of telehealth, the list of benefits are always increasing and scrutiny of our healthcare system forces many to find solutions. Telehealth is on that strong progression towards not just being an added bonus to way we provide care to our patients, but in some cases the only way we provide care.
I would never claim to be an elite expert in the field of healthcare innovation and policy, so I do not want to go into what I think will happen in 2016, but one cannot help feel the buzz in our Wellpepper office in Fremont, Seattle, WA. Our group serves has an example of what is going on in the mhealth field; we have grown in leaps and bounds just over the last 6 months in order to keep up with the demands of the industry. I cannot believe how incredibly lucky I am to be part of such great innovative team of professionals that have one goal of many in mind that brings my sentiment home, to make healthcare better for all of us.
Happy New Year!