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With American Well’s Online Care, patients and providers can have clinically meaningful online visits, anytime, anywhere.

an additional visit. By connecting hospitals, providers and patients, telehealth helps patients remain with their local providers as long as possible, while ensuring that they receive the best care possible.

During the past decade, telehealth’s growth moved from linear to exponential. The global telemedicine market grew from $9.8 billion in 2010 to $11.6 billion in 2011, and will almost triple to $27.3 billion by 2016. According to the American Telemedicine Association, 16 U.S. states, cover- ing more than 120 million Americans, have passed laws that require reimbursement for telehealth. Major health plans and healthcare systems – including Wellpoint, United Healthcare, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and a large number of BlueCross Blue Shield plans throughout the country – have made telehealth a foundational part of their long-term strategies.

The Massachusetts Cost Containment Bill, recently signed by Governor Deval Patrick, intends to save the Common- wealth up to $200 billion in healthcare costs over the next 15 years by encouraging the creation of ACOs. Governor Patrick said, “Massachusetts has been a model to the nation for access to healthcare. Today, we become the first to crack the code on cost.”

www.healthmgttech.com

Telehealth technology is poised to play an integral role in cracking that code. The new Massachusetts law includes multiple applications of telehealth as a way to contain health- care costs while improving access to care. The state that set the national standard for improving and ensuring healthcare access is now tackling cost-containment issues, and telehealth has been identified as a top priority for both. Yet inertia still remains. Physicians and hospital admin- istrators continue to debate how to seamlessly implement telehealth delivery systems in a manner that improves patient care and care coordination, while maximizing market growth and ROI. Some are taking a wait-and-see approach, while others consistently experiment and explore the promise that telehealth presents.

Boldly engaging modern technology – telehealth specifi- cally – to rewrite the map of healthcare availability around the country is now an imperative, not a luxury. The question today is not whether we should embrace telehealth technol- ogy, but rather how to do so safely and systematically. We simply cannot afford the inaction that was lurking under the continuous debate. We need to put technology to work in realizing the vision-turned-mandate of healthcare for every American.

HMT HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY November 2012 19

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