The Real Power Of Telehealth: Building Large Networks

Tom Sullivan, | Government Health IT | June 17, 2014

When Adam Darkins, MD, was a neurosurgeon he often wondered why healthcare decisions — such as diagnosis and treatment regiments — could not be made at a distance.  An MS patient in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, for instance, might be having trouble swallowing. Wouldn’t it make sense for that Veteran to be able to access care via a Veterans Affairs specialist center in Baltimore or Seattle? And to do so from Michigan, rather than travelling hundreds of miles?  

The vision is to “get access locally when needed, regionally if more important, and globally to access world experts,” Darkins, who leads the VA’s national telehealth programs, said here at the Government Health IT Conference and Exhibition on Tuesday. “Telehealth is predominantly about access.”  Toward that end, the VA started down its telehealth road, back in 2002, by first establishing what Darkins calls three circles: an initial inner circle, a second circle in which anyone within the VA can dial any other VA employee via IP video, and the third concentric circle ultimately will consist of direct IP video into the homes of VA patients."It's about creating large networks," Darkins continued...