Kristi Henderson, DNP, is the
Vice President of Innovation and Virtual Care with Seton Healthcare Family. She most recently comes from the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where she led the implementation of a statewide t
elehealth program, now recognized as a national model.
Kristi is an expert on emerging opportunities in telehealth and virtual care for the patient populations served by Central Health and the Community Care Collaborative. She was the guest speaker at our CCC/Central Health Champions Lunch n' Learn on Friday, July 15, and stayed late to answer some questions about this exciting topic.
1. What are telehealth and telemedicine? How does telemedicine allow for better access to health care across different populations and socioeconomic groups?
Telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient's clinical health status and requires that the patient be located in a clinical setting. Telehealth is a broader term that describes remote health care that does not always involve clinical services, but often the two terms are used interchangeably.
At Seton, we use the term "virtual care" to describe delivering health and wellness services using technology. The three primary services included in virtual care are: telemedicine, virtual visits (patient and provider can be anywhere), and remote patient monitoring, which includes mHealth (mobile health) and wearable technology.
Telehealth, is playing an increasingly important role in allowing healthcare providers to extend the reach of scarce or expensive expertise. Virtual care will complement traditional in-person care and will allow Seton to provide increased access to convenient, on-demand, high-quality health care services.
Telehealth was born out of necessity. Patients living in rural, remote areas have always lacked access to health care. Today, many patients are still not able to see a specialist or get the treatment they need without waiting long periods for an appointment. We could reduce these wait times if we used our existing health care workforce more effectively by using telehealth to optimize schedules, improve system efficiency and travel time, and share patient volume across the entire medical staff regardless of location. With telehealth, the walls of clinics and hospitals are extended to workplaces, schools, homes, and to the patient's smartphone.
2. What are some of the biggest challenges in implementation? How do these challenges differ across setting (i.e.rural vs. urban) and across medical disciplines (i.e.dermatology vs. behavioral health)?
The biggest barrier is not technology, regulation/policy, or even the patients. The biggest challenge to telehealth is in adoption by the health care team. It is always difficult to change a model of care, workflows, and communication pathways. But I have seen the impact of telehealth services on a health care system, and I know we will be successful here too. The best way to think about telehealth is that it is a modality to deliver the services we once delivered in-person. A cardiology clinic operates differently than a pediatric intensive care unit and those same differences exist when the medical disciplines begin using telehealth technology to deliver their services. The medical services/disciplines do not change, but the way we deliver these services does.
3. I understand you were the Chief Telehealth and Innovation Officer at UMMC?What was your overall experience with telehealth in Mississippi? Do you think there will be parallels here in Austin? What might remain the same and what might be different?
I worked at Mississippi's only academic medical center for 23 years, and my last position was as Chief Telehealth & Innovation Officer. I led the development and operation of Mississippi's statewide telehealth program which started in 2003. The need for telehealth is similar in Texas. Even though Austin is more populated, there are people who have difficulty accessing health care whether it is due to transportation, money, or other reasons. Telehealth helps fill gaps in care and makes access more convenient and more affordable.
Home monitoring kits offered to patients with chronic conditions. The kits have customizable language, audio, and visual settings.
4. Finally, how do you foresee virtual health will change health care, say, 10 years from now?
Telemedicine as we know it now is morphing into a virtual care health system encompassing much more than what's commonly understood by the term "telemedicine," or a FaceTime-with-your-doctor-type option. The virtual care industry will continue to change as new technology, big data, mHealth and health information exchanges evolves to include wearables, in-home test solutions, and customized, digital insurance models.
A report issued by Accenture predicts telehealth being a $1 billion industry by 2017.
You can learn more about Kristi's efforts here.