The majority of government healthcare officials in 16 countries believe that technology-enabled collaboration among medical professionals is the innovation mostly likely to lead to the transformation of their healthcare systems, according to a survey sponsored by Cisco.
While "telehealth" was the umbrella term used to describe this approach, the respondents clearly meant health IT that enables physicians and other providers to exchange patient data online. Sixty-five percent of the government officials said they thought that online collaboration on diagnosis and treatment had "high potential" to transform healthcare. The same percentage of respondents assigned that probability to "electronically sharing or accessing diagnostic images, video or patient biometric data." And 64 percent believed that collaboration via health IT would improve clinical training and "references"-probably referrals.
In contrast, only 32 percent of the respondents said that telehealth in the sense of remote monitoring and treatment held high potential for transforming health care. There was no question about other electronic links between doctors and patients, such as the posting of lab results and medical records on patient portals.
Support for telehealth was very strong. Only 4 percent of the respondents saw no need for it. On the other hand, telehealth is still not widespread in most of the world. Only 9 percent of respondents said sharing electronic data and images is "very common" today, while a mere 4 percent said professional collaboration using health IT is currently "very common."
The countries involved in the poll were: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, France, Germany, India, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, South Africa and the United States.