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The European Psychiatric International Congress, held in Madrid last month, drew behavioral health professionals from around the world, including Herbert Schwager, PhD, a clinical psychologist from the town of Willow, Alaska.

Dr. Schwager was invited to the prestigious gathering to present his paper on “The 21st Century House Call.”  The paper summarized his research comparing the efficacy and patient satisfaction of face-to-face psychotherapy sessions with tele-behavioral medicine sessions, with patient and therapist meeting via secure video conference sofrware.

Dr. Schwager’s study involved 400 patients. Two hundred were followed via tele-behavioral medicine, and the other 200 in face-to-face meetings. Patients were studied over a two-year period.

Image depicting Health devices are increasingly “connected”

From connected refrigerators that display the latest family photos to connected buttons that instantly place an order for laundry detergent when you press them, the Internet of Things is vast and growing rapidly. Health care is not immune to this new connected fever. Health care leaders and innovators are quickly developing connected health things that offer powerful new ways to care for people.

Finding a telemedicine partner

Need a doctor? Just use your tablet to see one via video—your insurance company may even pay for it. Or go to your nearest pharmacy—or maybe a kiosk at your workplace—for a telemedicine visit. This new service model is much more convenient, faster and cheaper than heading to an emergency department or urgent care center, and it’s growing by leaps and bounds.

Doctor speaking with a pregnant patient through a virtual visit on a tablet

As a physician with over 20 years practicing medicine, I've always been an advocate of strong doctor-patient relationships. The strength of that relationship is the core of high-quality patient care.

Contrary to what some physicians think, I believe telemedicine actually has the power to enhance and harness that relationship — if we use it in the right way. Some physicians argue that virtual care can't equate to an in-office visit. But anyone in the know about telemedicine understands why that argument just doesn't hold up. In fact, virtual visits can be a great way to build trust with patients and maintain continuity of care (by keeping patients in your practice and competing with retail health, for instance).

Skilled nursing facility

Telemedicine is a relatively new way to bring medical examinations, diagnosis and treatment services to a patient over a network. Telemedicine solutions that include peripherals, such as a stethoscope, otoscope and high quality zoom camera, bring patients face-to-face with an offsite physician who can quickly examine, diagnose and provide treatment options during an off-hours emergency.

The use of a telemedicine system within a skilled nursing facility (SNF) not only opens dialogue between healthcare professionals at different facilities, but also allows an offsite physician to more rapidly access and diagnose the patient and recommend treatment based on a first-hand evaluation, offering an even greater level of patient care. With these benefits in mind, telemedicine is becoming increasingly important for skilled nursing facilities facing a wave of new penalties stemming from changing rules governing patient readmissions.

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