What is telehealth or “connected health”? What is driving the use of connected health and what are its benefits? To achieve its full potential, what key challenges must be overcome? What are the central policy issues that must be addressed?
These are some of the questions explored by a group of leaders representing providers, payers, research and philanthropic organizations, and technology companies (listed at the end of this post), convened by Health Affairs and the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) last month. The session was organized partly to prepare for an upcoming Health Affairs thematic issue on connected health, to which former Senate Majority Leader and BPC Health Project Co-Chair Bill Frist—who chaired the discussion—will contribute.
What is “Connected Health”?
While federal and state laws have often defined telehealth as a two-way real-time exchange between the physician and the patient, several participants cautioned against defining it too narrowly, given the rapid evolution of technology in the marketplace. In addition to traditional telehealth services which enable clinicians to deliver care to patients using electronic means, other new services are rapidly emerging, including remote monitoring which uses devices to collect and send patient data from the home to clinicians to track progress and enable early intervention for worsening conditions, and secure email between clinicians and their patients.