The recently hired associate vice president of virtual medicine at UMass Memorial Health Care plans to expand the reach of the hospital’s existing telehealth program to improve patient access, quality of care and satisfaction.
David Smith, who was appointed to his new position at UMass Memorial earlier this year, told The Telegram that he plans to expand the hospital's decade-old virtual care program from one that is isolated in specific departments to an enterprise-wide solution that is integrated with the provider’s accountable care organization.
In addition to existing tele-ICU and tele-stroke programs, the hospital is using store-and-forward technology and increasingly exploring the use of mobile apps expand access to virtual care.
“One easy method we have with our effectiveness at delivering telehealth is driving down the number of re-admissions, and we can do that through various methods of engaging in the post-acute care setting or even in the patient home, and one good example would be having a post-op video visit that follows up with our surgical patients in their home through the course of 90 days after surgery,” he told The Telegram.
Acknowledging a common concern that technology creates a disconnect within the patient-provider relationship, Smith argues telehealth allows the hospital to “extend our reach of care” to give patients more say in their medical care.
“Ever increasingly, we’re seeing a shift away from your traditional care delivery models to one that is more consumer-centric,” he said. “As a result of that, probably for the first time in modern medicine, our patients, consumers, and customers are having a say in how and where they receive care.”
Research shows patients see the value in telehealth both in terms of convenience and cost. A recent study conducted by Nemours Children’s Health System showed patient and family members saved $50 on average and recouped just under an hour of their time by using telemedicine for sports medicine appointments.