ATA President’s Award Winners: Pushing the Needle in Telehealth
By Christina Hernandez Sherwood (Original story posted on MedCity News)
One is a father who knew there had to be a way to remotely diagnose his daughter’s chronic ear infections. Another is a metropolitan healthcare system expanding its reach through virtual care. There are telehealth advocates working to promote the field across the country, and a team of experts spreading the word to pediatrics.
These are the winners of this year’s American Telemedicine Association President’s Awards, which recognize substantial contributions in telehealth advancement. Discover how the awardees are propelling telehealth forward:
Innovation in Remote Healthcare: Tyto Care
Video conferencing with a doctor has significant value, but it can’t replicate the medical exams done in the doctor’s office, says Dedi Gilad, co-founder and chief executive. Tyto Care’s device can examine the ears, throat, heart, lungs, abdomen and skin, as well as record heart rate and temperature, then forward the data to a provider. It’s meant to replicate an in-office exam and consult, no matter the patient’s location.
“My daughter… suffered through chronic, painful ear infections at a young age, which resulted in countless middle-of-the-night and weekend trips to the emergency room,” Gilad says. “With all that hassle, the diagnosis and treatment always ended up the same.”
The technology not only has implications for harried parents and their oft-sick kids, but also for patients with chronic conditions, post-operative patients and patients who frequently visit the doctor and ER, Gilad says. “By enabling a comprehensive remote examination, the types of medical conditions that can be diagnosed using telehealth can greatly expand,” he says. “We envision a world where it is second nature for consumers to connect with their physician for a remote exam and diagnosis.”
The company received FDA clearance in the fall and is rolling out its solutions to health systems, telehealth providers and strategic partners. The launch for U.S. consumers is expected this year.
Transformation of Healthcare Delivery: NewYork-Presbyterian
NewYork-Presbyterian developed NYP OnDemand, a suite of telemedicine services, to expand its reach from beyond the Big Apple. Its offerings include:
- Express Care: video care delivered to emergency department patients
- Urgent Care: acute care delivered via smartphone, tablet or computer to patients in their homes in four states
- Peer-to-Peer Consults: consults by specialist physicians in psychiatry, neurology and pediatric medicine to patients in NewYork-Presbyterian emergency departments
- Second Opinions: Weill Cornell and Columbia physicians can asynchronously review labs, imaging and other data to deliver a second opinion
- Mobile Stroke Unit: mobile unit allows potential stroke patients to receive curbside CT scans with results sent to a neurologist for reading and immediate treatment
The first five offerings of NYP OnDemand have proven the viability and potential for digital medicine, says Daniel Barchi, NewYork-Presbyterian’s chief information officer. Express Care, for instance, cut the average emergency department visit time from more than two hours to 30 minutes with a 95 percent patient satisfaction rating.
The medical center will now use the insights and lessons learned to expand direct patient and physician digital appointments for routine care, acute visits and both pre- and post-surgical visits, Barchi says. “NYP OnDemand has, in a matter of months, moved from vision to test to operational stages and is now a key part of NYP’s growth,” he says. “The program will continue in scope and, more importantly, in volume to meet the need of more patients nationally and globally.”
Individual Leadership: Elizabeth A. Krupinski, professor and vice chair of research, Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, Emory University
The last year has been exciting for Krupinski, who works with colleagues at the University of Arizona to promote telehealth in the Southwest and recently joined the virtual patient care team at Emory in Atlanta, Georgia. As chair of the ATA’s Practice Guidelines Committee, she led the effort to produce important new guidelines and update others to better reflect the evolving field of telehealth. And as part of the ATA’s Human Factors Special-Interest Group, Krupinski helped initiate a series of “Telehealth Quick Guidelines” with easy steps to optimize telehealth encounters by focusing on the human side of the equation.
“The next big hurdle is to help delineate and guide the future directions of research efforts in telehealth,” Krupinski says. “Our goal should not be to simply assess the ‘tele’ part of telehealth care, but to study healthcare as a system and the optimal integration of the various tools and techniques that telemedicine offers.”
Industry Leader Award: Geoffrey Boyce, executive director of InSight Telepsychiatry
A national telepsychiatry organization, InSight Telepsychiatry works in 27 states across the country. “As InSight has grown into new states,” Boyce says, “we have often had to work with partners and state officials to update policies that were written before anyone ever contemplated telemedicine.” In fact, Boyce has spent much of the last year working with policymakers in the company’s home state of New Jersey to develop telemedicine friendly regulation.
Other accomplishments for Boyce include the growth of Inpathy, the company’s direct-to-consumer division, as well as significant work with the ATA, including helping to draft comments on the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act and reviewing the ATA’s Guidelines for Child and Adolescent Telemental Health.
While his work to expand telehealth reimbursement to new states and new applications, including direct-to-consumer telehealth, will continue, Boyce is also pushing for increased telehealth training and education.
“The industry has produced some great guidelines for telehealth best practices in the past year,” he says, “and I look forward to seeing more training programs and existing providers utilize these tools to stay up to date on the most appropriate ways to practice through this medium.”
Special-Interest Group (SIG) Achievement Award: Pediatric Telehealth
This year’s honor went to ATA’s Pediatric Telehealth SIG, which worked to strengthen its relationship with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ telehealth section, say chair Kathy Webster and co-chair James McElligott. “As our membership grows and becomes more active in both organizations, we focused this past year on SIG member engagement,” they say.
Subgroups structured around evidence and quality approaches that would be synergistic to the conversations in the AAP were formed to mobilize SIG members. Most of these subgroups remain active now — a year later — and the group has seen more engagement on its monthly calls. Each subgroup has a specific focus, leading to ongoing conversations among members that would otherwise occur only at annual meetings.
“Our research collaborative provides a platform for sharing ideas and advancing the evidence base for telehealth,” the chairs say, “while strong advocacy efforts help to educate lawmakers and promote legislation to remove barriers to telehealth, as well as educating members on how to spread these efforts both regionally and nationally.”