Merry New Year, ProviderNation. Whatever else you’re getting under the tree, John Morley hopes that it’s a hearty doze of 21st century telecommunications technology. Telemedicine, he tells us in the latest issue of JAMDA, is an “idea whose time has clearly come!”
When an unflappable chap such as Morley reaches for his exclamation points, perhaps it’s time to give a listen. An “obvious starting” point for providers to take advantage of telecom is by connecting remotely with specialists.
“For many residents with disabilities in nursing homes, transport to see a specialist represents a major barrier,” Morley says. “For patients with Parkinson disease and multiple sclerosis, there is evidence that these consultations can be performed by telemedicine. Teledermatology is already an accepted approach to care for skin disorders in the nursing homes.”
Morley also canvases the possibilities of remote psychiatry, counseling and even Cognitive Stimulation Therapy or Reminiscence Therapy for those suffering from dementia.
“Given the shortage of geriatricians, telemedicine would be an excellent modality to reduce polypharmacy, explore treatable causes of weight loss, and approaches to reversing frailty and sarcopenia,” he says.
Looking at previous work on the impact of telemedicine, Morley says it will likely be a huge help in reducing needless hospitalizations. “The time to introduce geriatric telemedince is clearly upon us,” he concludes.
Loyal readers of this space (and thank you, both of you), of course, will know that telemedicine is before Congress as we speak. The fine folks at Good Samaritan—who’ve already pioneered remote treatment—have lobbied for more than a decade to obtain federal funding for high-speed broadband in the nation’s skilled nursing centers.
What’s fascinating in Morley’s piece is just how ancient telemedicine really is. “In 1905,” Morley tells us, “the Dutch physician, Willem Enthoven, transferred electrocardiograms by telephone. In the 1930s, two-way radio communications were introduced to provide medical care for sick persons in the outback of Australia.”