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    Telemedicine boosts patient engagement, should remain priority for physicians

    Consumers don’t think twice about using an ATM or firing up Amazon to buy anything and everything, but engaging with their physicians via telemedicine—two-way video, emails, smartphones, wireless tools—is not yet a natural instinct.

    A HealthMine Survey of 500 consumers who use mobile/Internet-connected health applications finds that 39% still have not heard of telemedicine, and only one-third of respondents say their health plan offers telehealth as an option.

     

    Related: 7 telemedicine myths debunked

     

    Many healthcare organizations are trying to change that by developing apps and other technology to push patient engagement through more convenient physician access outside doctors’ offices and within hospital walls.

    “Patient activation and improved understanding of health issues lead to better outcomes, lower costs and an improved health experience for patients and their providers,” says Richard Bakalar, M.D., managing director, KPMG.

    He touts remote connectivity between doctor and patient, online follow-up and the use of self-service tools, such as digital trackers and home monitoring devices.

    Software Enables Immediate Diagnoses, Treatment Plans

    Ray Costantini, MD, CEO of Bright.md, says consumers want care quickly and all in one place, which is why he cofounded the company. Bright.md has developed a software system called SmartExam that enables patients to connect with their physicians when they have a non-emergency health concern.  

    When patients log in to Bright.md, a service provided by their insurers, they are prompted to answer a set of specially-tailored questions about their condition. Bright.md then develops a preliminary diagnosis and treatment plan, alerts the patient’s physician, and provides  information about the patient’s problem to the clinician, who makes a final diagnosis and determines the best care. If a prescription is needed, Bright.md sends it directly to the pharmacy of choice.   

     

    Related: Telemedicine empowers patients, but challenges physicians

     

    He says the software gives patients a platform for care with their own provider while enabling providers to deliver evidence-based care more quickly. More than 70% of patients, he says, prefer SmartExam, which cuts a visit from 20 minutes down to two, to an in-person visit.

    Next: Solving patient problems 

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