Healthcare From Anywhere: Understanding Telehealth Innovations During the Pandemic

Lansing, MI. (July 13, 2020) – Connected Nation (CN), through its state program Connected Nation Michigan (CN Michigan), is hosting a series of free webinars focused on telehealth usage and advances for patients and doctors and how the technology is impacting the healthcare industry as a whole.

The coronavirus pandemic has made telehealth a necessity and household term. As a result, telemedicine is advancing at lightning speeds,” said Eric Frederick, Executive Director, CN Michigan. “Our nonprofit released a comprehensive telehealth study just weeks before the pandemic hit the country. This study looked at the use and perceptions of telehealth in rural areas. We recognized that the need for this technology coupled with the new and rapidly changing landscape of telehealth needed to be explored”.

These webinars that will bring patients up-to-date on the most current innovations and help create understanding on how to better leverage the technology—whether it’s during a single doctor’s visit or long-term healthcare monitoring needs.

The first webinar took place on June 16 and featured speaks from Spectrum Health who explained how their company took a three-year plan for expanding telehealth to more patients and hospitals and turned it around in just three weeks—all in response to the COVID-19 health pandemic.

The second webinar is set to take place on Tuesday, July 21 at 11am (eastern). In part two, the topic will be focused on telehealth technologies that can be leveraged to access specialized and acute care even in some of the most remote locations. 

“We’ll also examine how telemedicine is being used for long term patient monitoring which is critical to improving health outcomes for senior citizens and other vulnerable populations,” added Frederick.

Those who would like to attend the webinar can register at the following link: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/4651256750253973775. You can watch the previous webinar and get details about future events by heading to this webpage: https://connectednation.org/michigan/healthcare-from-anywhere/.

About the Telehealth Study

“Healthcare From Anywhere: Telehealth Use & Perceptions in Rural Michigan” was completed in February 2020 and released on March 5, just days before COVID-19 shutdowns began across the U.S.

This groundbreaking study closely examines the use and perceptions of telehealth in rural areas with a focus on Michigan counties. Researchers found, among other things, the highest ratios in the country of patients per doctor, a lower-than-average life expectancy, and a higher-than-average number of preventable hospital stays in rural states with restrictive telehealth policies.

The more than six-month-long study was done in partnership with AARP and the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. Find the full report at http://bit.ly/2ThWBPX. The study looks at the opportunities and reasons for expanding telehealth as well as the obstacles for rural areas.

Key findings from the study:

  • Among 1,374 counties in 18 states, counties that are deemed “Care Underserved” (often rural or low-income) have an average ratio of 4,758 residents per primary care physician (PCP), the least favorable rate in the country.
  • In the five counties surveyed, telehealth usage represents a savings of nearly $4.7 million per year, just for simple 15-minute visits to general practitioners.
  • With studies showing that the average doctor’s visit requires approximately two hours between travel, waiting rooms, and the visits themselves, this represents nearly $1 million ($985,000) in lost productivity per year in these five counties, totaling a savings of $5.7 million per year in these five counties alone.
  • Interacting via a website is the most popular way to use telehealth (36%), followed by interacting via email (34%), text messaging (17%), mobile apps (12%), video conferencing (4%), and social media (4%).
  • The top barrier to telehealth usage was a concern about the privacy of the information they share. For others, the potential cost, or the potential risk that some costs would not be covered by their insurance or payer, gave them cause for concern.

Six key issues researchers found must be addressed to improve and expand telehealth services in rural Michigan (and likely other rural areas):

  • Access to and use of home broadband service is often too low in rural areas.
  • Rural Michiganders have concerns about the safety of their online information.
  • Telehealth services are not reimbursed at all or are reimbursed at a lower level than in-person healthcare services.
  • Healthcare providers need additional funding to support expansion and improvement of telehealth services.
  • Telehealth technology must become more integrative by adopting and learning how to use new tools and procedures for each telehealth application.
  • Support for telehealth in Michigan is scattershot and needs to be more organized and targeted.

There are hundreds of key data points, which can be found at http://bit.ly/2ThWBPX. To learn more about CN Michigan, head to connectednation.org/Michigan; to learn more about CN, head to connectednation.org.

Feel free to share or use this quick explainer video in broadcasts or on websites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9wS2vmrr2E.

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About Connected Nation: CN Michigan is a local subsidiary of the national nonprofit Connected Nation, which has worked for nearly two decades to identify innovative solutions to connect every family, business, and community to broadband (high-speed internet).

Our mission is to improve lives by providing innovative solutions that expand access to and increase the adoption and use of broadband (high-speed internet) and its related technologies for all people. Everyone belongs in a Connected Nation. For more information, please visit: connectednation.org and follow Connected Nation on Facebook and Twitter.

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