This same time last year I wrote about the growing acceptance of telemedicine, but in looking back at 2017, I believe “acceptance” is no longer the right word. It’s more accurate to say that hospitals, providers and patients are embracing telemedicine with gusto. It’s a solution for many of today’s most pressing challenges.
It was also a year in which Eagle Telemedicine’s business reached a new level. The quantity of our business grew, yes. But something else significant happened. The hospital industry began changing, and we changed with it.
Keeping pace with changing times
To use a simple analogy: Consider Eagle Telemedicine as a health club. In previous years, our partner hospitals signed up for either the Eagle pool, the Eagle weight room, or the Eagle track. They contracted with us to provide a specific standalone service, whether it be TeleNocturnist care; TeleCross-Coverage or surge protection; TeleNeurology; or Tele-ICU.
Today, facilities of all shapes and sizes—from long-term acute care hospitals (LTACHs) and micro-hospitals to large health systems—require a telemedicine provider standing by with a menu of inpatient specialty services. These facilities want to join the Eagle health club, so to speak, so they can swim, lift weights, or run whenever they feel like it. They partner with us not for one exclusive service, but for the availability of all our services—TeleCardiology, TelePsychiatry, and TelePulmonology among others—to fill any staffing gaps, reduce transfers, and better care for patients in their home communities.
Fitting new hospital models
It’s encouraging to know that as one of telemedicine’s first pioneers, we’re fully prepared to meet the demand for this new kind of telemedicine partnership. We have fit into the streamlined model of micro-hospital care very well.
Like micro-hospitals, LTACHs are also looking for single-source providers of solutions, with one point of contact, one operating system, one set of processes. We are proud to be in a position where we can help these new types of facilities become a standard part of the healthcare options available to Americans.
2017: A year of telemedicine progress
In 2017, we saw other encouraging signs for our industry, like the recent news that the Texas Medical Board released rules in line with state law passed in May allowing providers to care for patients remotely without having in-person meetings first. We saw the increasing use of telemedicine in metropolitan hospitals, and the rise of the “virtual partner” strategy to help share the load with overburdened specialists at local hospitals.
We’ll discuss these developments further in our next blog about predictions for our industry in 2018. For now, suffice it to say that telemedicine continued to emerge as a realistic solution to many challenges caused by the physician shortage in 2017, and will continue to do so in the new year.