Every year, we attend the American Telemedicine Association Annual Conference. I attended this year for Iris Telehealth as the Clinical Operations and IT Manager. Technology in the telemedicine space is unique and evolving quickly, so I was intrigued to see what was new at the New Orleans ATA this year. After interacting with exhibitors and attending sessions, I gained a variety of takeaways from this annual meeting.
Understanding Hardware and Software in Telemedicine
We don’t build or sell software or hardware but many are concerned about these components of service delivery. There is a convergence and overlapping of features and functionalities as companies I saw last year continue to grow and evolve their products. Out of this convergence, I see two opportunities:
- Don’t forget the little guys: The 800-pound gorillas of the telehealth technology space continue to evolve their isolated ecosystems and seem to have little or no interest in interoperability with others in the space. It’s not surprising they might choose to dominate and lock out other competitors, but it is short-sighted as many of their solutions are cost-prohibitive or can’t be broken into small enough services to reach small and underserved markets. This could leave them vulnerable to more agile and cost-effective solutions.
- Consolidations provide the best of both worlds: I also expect that there are consolidations coming. Many of the mid-sized video and EMR companies are creating solutions that solve the same (or overlapping) issues but tend to be ‘friendlier’ and more interoperable than the large ‘one-stop shops’ and will eventually make the larger players modify their model or risk being completely undermined.
Smart Connected Medical Tools are Here to Stay
I was impressed with the number of remote diagnostic tools that are coming to market. There are some very ambitious products including teledentistry, apps for your phone to get and submit vitals to doctors, and internet-connected stethoscopes and the like to assist doctors in assessment and tracking.
The ingenuity and creativity shine at these conferences particularly in the direct-to-consumer space. It will be exciting to see how that component of this space grows in the coming years, particularly as legislation evolves.
Gaps In Care
Standing in our booth, fielding questions and handing out telemedicine t-shirts, I noted a few trends. I think largely because of how insurance and reimbursement work, I spoke to a number of people who were looking for help with geriatric populations. It seems like there is a painful gap in that space right now.
I also spoke to a number of international travelers, some doctors, some visionaries, who are looking to bring some of the telemedicine advancements being made in the US to their countries. I had a long conversation with a lovely psychiatrist from Argentina where they have the same challenge we do: not enough psychiatrists and none in rural and remote areas. She was intrigued at how we are helping solve that problem particularly in its technical simplicity.
Overall the ATA conference seemed a bit smaller than last year in Chicago and was not without its controversies. The city and the weather were very hospitable and I left New Orleans with the same thought I had the year before – the future is bright for advances in care via telemedicine.
About Iris Telehealth
Iris Telehealth is a telepsychiatry provider organization made up of the highest quality psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners. Our mission is to provide underserved communities with access to the best mental health specialists and prescribers. We are owned and operated by doctors who understand what patients need and have earned a reputation for providing outstanding customer service. Iris values building strong professional relationships with our partners and their staff. We are dedicated to understanding your organization’s needs and operational goals because we recognize that your success is critical to our own.
Iris Telehealth has helped countless hospitals and community health organizations across the country add telepsychiatry to their list of services. We believe everyone should have access to compassionate mental health care, and we have made it our mission to find innovative, affordable ways of making this possible!