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Sep 11, 2020

Philips & ATA at HIMSS Europe: Three Ways to Hardwire Virtual Care Strategies

Estimated reading time: 3-5 minutes

In partnership with ATA, Philips spotlights telehealth expertise and commitment to support momentum propelled by COVID-19 at HIMSS Europe

2020 has been a momentous year for virtual care. Out of need, communities across the globe quickly adopted telehealth as a new model of care delivery; clinician acceptance grew exponentially; policymakers began to improve incentives for its use; and home became our hospital. COVID-19 exposed weaknesses in the healthcare infrastructure that telehealth helped to stitch up, with healthcare systems reporting a 50 to 175-fold increase in telehealth volume compared to pre-pandemic levels [1]. While it played a pivotal role during the battle against COVID-19, industry experts are now looking ahead to ensure the momentum continues post-pandemic. 

 

In partnership with the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and relying on each other’s breadth of telehealth experience, Philips is committed to paving a path forward for this critical moment in telehealth’s expansion. During a recent webinar at the HIMSS Europe virtual event, Karsten Russell Wood, Portfolio Leader of Post-Acute & Home at Philips, and Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of ATA, outlined critical ways to hardwire a telehealth strategy and imbed it into care delivery models going forward. These include the need for vendors, policymakers, healthcare organizations and beyond to better collaborate to help telehealth innovation become a standard of care, the need for longitudinal telehealth integration strategies that go beyond piecemeal solutions, and the need to transform the perception of “home” to meet consumers where they are. 

Moving the conversation beyond technology

At HIMSS Europe, Russell-Wood claimed telehealth technology alone will not lead us to a successful, virtual-first future. Instead, there needs to be a clinical transformation where workflows are rewritten, policies strongly incentivize the use of connected technology, and companies and hospitals partner on outcome-based models that support the scalability of virtual care. In response to the pandemic, open innovation was brought to new heights, with organizations, federal agencies, private and public companies from all different industries coming together to manage surge capacity and maintain quality care. For Russell-Wood, this productive collaboration cannot stop here – instead, we should continue to bring dimensions of policy, clinical experience, and consumer voices to imbed telehealth into our everyday systems. “Solving healthcare’s issues is a systems problem, not a disease problem. In the last six months, out of need, we have seen more innovation and adoption in healthcare than we’ve seen in the last decade and a half,” said Russell-Wood. 

 

For Johnson, this level of innovation is an unsung hero, stating, “what we saw with the pandemic was the surge in innovation and creativity. It is safe to say that technology literally saved the US healthcare system from collapsing and helped us survive the surge.”

Solving healthcare’s issues is a systems problem, not a disease problem. In the last six months, out of need, we have seen more innovation and adoption in healthcare than we’ve seen in the last decade and a half.

Karsten Russel-Wood

Identifying practical, sustainable avenues for hardwiring virtual care

Virtual care models are not just for the home – remote monitoring within the hospital is the crux of minimizing infection risk for both clinicians and patients, handling sudden increases in patient volumes, and allocating resources appropriately. Across both hospital and home, Russell-Wood identified six keys to adopting virtual health in a sustainable way. In the hospital, these include centralized clinical command centers to achieve remote, holistic patient views, and solutions that activate scalable patient monitoring for ICU ramp-ups, such as mobile ICUs that can be deployed in one day, and Rapid Equipment Deployment kits that enable surge-capacity monitoring in under two hours. At home, virtual care can be activated through hospital-grade wearables such as biosensors to active remote patient monitoring, and local community access centers for those without internet access or the technology means to engage in telehealth at home. When all six of these keys are activated, it makes for a powerful, integrated system that enhances patient and staff safety, improves outcomes, and reduces costs. 

 

“We need to be enablers of this digitization of care, allowing technology and data to move seamlessly from the ED, to ICU, to post-acute and home setting, where the majority of our older consumer patient base wants to age in place. The consumer voice is loud, and tomorrow’s healthcare will move it from a whisper to a shout,” said Russell-Wood.

Turning home into an epicenter of health

2020 has transformed how we view “home.”  Home has become the center of life operations for people across the globe – we work from home, we educate our children at home and we exercise at home. For Russell-Wood, healthcare is now another cornerstone of home, and will become the norm. However, just like all of these other ‘at-home’ activities that require getting used to or training, we need to support health literacy and engagement for all users. “The pandemic has made the inequalities in our health system raw. Even before the pandemic, a minority of the population consumed the majority of healthcare spending. This is a sign that they are not receiving the care they need. We have an opportunity to change this equation with virtual care and bridge the digital divide,” said Russell-Wood. 

 

Philips’ collaboration with ATA will help foster telehealth growth and spur the policy changes escalated during COVID-19. No longer is telehealth a ‘nice to have’ but an essential tool in the industry’s efforts to improve care for patients across care settings, support healthy living in the home. For more information on how Philips is addressing the Coronavirus globally, please visit the Philips centralized COVID-19 hub.

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Kathy O'Reilly

Kathy O'Reilly

Philips Global Press Office

Tel.: +1 978-221-8919