ATA 2017: Conference Preview


Telehealth news represents the ultimate convergence of technology and human interest. The gadgets and software excite the geeks within us, while the applications of these solutions result in incredible “feel good” stories. It is also a quickly growing market, with telemedicine patients expected to reach 7 million in 2018, which is a dramatic increase from the 350,000 served in 2013. Many telehealth solutions use the same underlying communications technologies that we cover here every day at Let’s Do Video. Telehealth is, in effect, a proving ground for many of the rich media communications solutions destined for enterprise use.

With all that in mind, it is no wonder that we are extremely excited to be attending this year’s American Telemedicine Association (ATA) conference in Orlando next week. The ATA is the leading telehealth organization with over 10,000 members globally. The event will showcase keynotes and sessions from thought leaders as well as exhibits from technology vendors with the latest in telehealth solutions.

While I can’t hope to cover everything at the show, there are certainly a few things I am looking forward to. With that in mind, here is some of what I expect to see at the event.

The Keynotes

Patrick J. Kennedy – American politician and mental health advocate.
After leaving the political realm, Patrick Kennedy founded the Kennedy Forum, which unites the community of mental health, and co-founded One Mind for Research, a global leader in open science collaboration in brain research. His session is titled, “Delivering Care to Those in Need” and I expect, based on his background, for it to be focused on telemedicine for mental health. The use of telehealth solutions to provide those with mental health issues to access support and services which might not be otherwise available is already helping many in need. I look forward to learning more about the current state of the industry and projections for the future.

Thomas L. Friedman – American journalist and author.
Thomas Friedman is extremely well known from his tenure at the New York Times, as well as his six best-selling books, and three Pulitzer Prizes. His session is titled, “The Big Trends Shaping the World Today: Economics, Technology, and Geopolitics”. Anyone following the news is well aware of how healthcare, economics, and politics have become intrinsically intertwined. While there is certainly much cause for consternation in this area, I am hoping that Friedman will have reasons for us to be positive looking forward.

Pamela Peele – Chief Analytics Officer, UPMC Insurance Services Division
Pamela Peele’s academic credentials, industry awards, and leadership positions are too numerous to list here. Her session is titled, “Dollars and Cents: The Economics of Remote Healthcare Delivery”. While we the increased access provided by telehealth services is obvious to us all, it does raise a question. What good is access if it is not affordable? I expect and hope that this session will dive into the specifics of how technology can make remote healthcare affordable for both the individual, and our society as a whole.

The Sessions

Virtual Visits, Real ROI
This session will reveal the results of an actual study comparing 4,635 virtual visits to 55,310 non-virtual visits. I am extremely interested in the results, not only in terms of costs savings, but in terms of quality of health care services as perceived by the patients and those conducting the study.

Using SMS for Behavior Change – Post Emergency Room Visit
This session will discuss a paper studying the effects of using SMS (text messages) to encourage healthy behavioral changes in patients after receiving ER services. It doesn’t take a medical degree to understand that encouraging healthy behaviors can reduce the need for return visits and other expensive medical services. I want to know more about the details of this program and how it works, as well as the measured results.

Promoting Telemedicine Adoption in Managed Medicaid: Use Case of a Statewide Virtual Care Program
As we know in the videoconferencing industry, technology is not always self adopting. Sometimes systems get implemented, but fail to see enough usage to generate the expected ROI. Molina Healthcare of Washington is providing virtual urgent care to over 650,000 Medicaid members. I think there is much to be learned from the successful implementation of this massive program.

Online Consultations – What’s Ahead and How Will It Affect the Existing Healthcare Industry?
While the previous sessions listed will be sharing the results of already implemented studies and programs, it is always useful to look ahead. In this session, CEOs from several leading telehealth providers will give their projections for the industry for the next 3-5 years.

A Qualitative Study of Baby Boomers Use of Consumer Health Technology as Engaged Consumers and Patients
Once again, the baby boomers are changing the game. This session will reveal the results of a study showing how baby boomers entering retirement approach their healthcare needs. Unlike previous generations, they are not taking a passive role in their healthcare decisions, but are actively engaging by using the latest tools and technologies to monitor their health and collaborate with their doctors. I wonder if this yields positive results, or just drives the doctors crazy.

The Exhibitors

While I plan on visiting as many booths as possible, and too many to cover here, there are a few that have released early announcements, or sent me preliminary information, that have caught my interest. Here they are, in no particular order.

AMD Global Telemedicine
AMD announced version 6.0 of their AGNES Interactive software. This solution pulls medical data from devices to share it with remote doctors. The new version adds videoconferencing, powered by Vidyo. This is obviously going to increase the level of communication and collaboration between doctors and their patients.

Suitable Technologies
I’ve been well aware of the popular Beam mobile video platform (they don’t like the term “telepresence robot”), but have usually thought of it as an education or enterprise tool. I am looking forward to seeing their new prototype, and learning about its telehealth applications.

Pregnancy can be as stressful as it is exciting. A fetal wellness monitor, providing real time data to an app on your smartphone, can help relieve some of that stress. I’m very curious about what kind of data exactly is being captured by this device.

Treatment for stuttering involves a lot of learning and practice. By providing an online solutions, Novotalk empowers people who stutter to improve their speech on their own terms, independently and discretely.

I have several family members with diabetes and well understand the constant management and monitoring it can require. A solution to allow doctors to view patients’ data in real time can help keep treatment plans on track.

Vivify Health
From the information provided to me, this appears to be a comprehensive solution for complete end-to-end remote patient care, currently deployed in over 500 hospitals and health care facilities.

Some health care organizations may wish to white label telehealth services. Zipnosis offers a selection of white labeled tools from triage, to video/phone consultations, to a comprehensive online clinical interview.

I once heard a rumor that the original design for the iPad took into consideration the size of the pockets on doctors’ lab coats. True or not, it is a pretty safe bet that docs have mobile devices and would appreciate the “appification” of telehealth. The e-Bridge app supports a number of health services.

This little device reminds me of something from Star Trek. It claims to be “the first complete telehealth solution enabling live, remote patient examinations of the ears, nose, throat, skin, heart and temperature.” I love the idea of a little device checking me out at home and sending all the data to my doctor.

Advanced ICU Care
This leading provider of telehealth services announced that it will be hosting hands-on demonstrations to virtually transport visitors to a hospital’s ICU. I think this 15 minute tour will be very much worth my time.

This Florida-based company will be introducing their new DME Deal platform, offering an easier way to procure medical equipment.

Doctor On Demand
Who wants to wait to make an appointment to see a doctor when you can see one on your mobile device in minutes? Have we really gotten to the point where it’s easier to bring up a doctor on video than it is to order a pizza?


About Author

David Maldow is the Founder & CEO of Let's Do Video and has been covering the visual collaboration industry, and related technologies, for over a decade. His background includes 5 years at Wainhouse Research, where he managed the Video Test Lab and evaluated many of the leading solutions at the time. David has authored hundreds of articles and thought pieces both at Telepresence Options, where he was managing partner for several years, as well as here at Let's Do Video. David often speaks at industry events and webinars as well as hosting the LDV Video Podcast.

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