Telemedicine: The next healthcare frontier

I just returned from the American Telemedicine Association annual conference, the largest international conference whose focus is on telehealth. The conference brings together healthcare professionals and industry leaders with the mission of transforming healthcare while ensuring quality, equity, and affordability.

I was struck in particular by one presenter, a noted author on societal trends, who said we have reached a tipping point in our existence where greater than 50% of what we do is carried out in "cyberspace." Think about it. Among the things now carried out in virtual fashion are banking, communication, networking, dating and relationships, schooling and education, working, paying bills, and shopping for anything you can imagine. This tipping point is also present in healthcare and growing at a rapid pace. For example, we now access our individual health records online, and in some instances communicate via email with our doctor’s offices. In rural and under-served areas, telemedicine has served for a number of years now as a vital link to advanced healthcare for conditions such as stroke, dermatology, and mental health problems. Would it surprise you to know some surgeries can be done remotely by doctors utilizing computers and robotic equipment?
A bit closer to home, you likely are familiar with the Fitbit or other "wearable technology" that enables you to track a number of your own health and fitness parameters. Why not use such technology to plug-in to your doctor’s office and improve your health? The answer is, we already do! We are currently able to provide remote care via devices that can monitor numerous health parameters such as weight, blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm, and blood sugar. We have remote stethoscopes to listen to hearts and lungs, and a variety of visual aids to look into ears, noses, mouths, and to examine rashes. In addition to the potential for remote surgeries, there are other Star-Trek type devices under development that will eventually allow us to evaluate more complex health parameters remotely.

For now, we are just dipping our toes intothis next frontier of medicine. We are just getting used to the idea of "seeing" our doctor virtually, via telemedicine in an online encounter. It is clear that to balance the demands of escalating healthcare costs and diminished supply, novel efficiencies such as telemedicine will need to be adopted. So what can you do to get more familiar with and promote this next frontier? Let me give you some concrete action items:, explore

the site (including back issues of this blog!), and learn about how we provide urgent care visits online.

Registerwith AHonDemand (it takes 2 minutes!) so when you have a healthcare need, all you need to do is connect with one of our providers.
Discusswith your doctor’s office their plans for integrating telemedicine into their practice.
Askyour friends and family what they know about telemedicine. If you’ve used it already, tell others about it. If they’ve used it, ask them about their experience. You will likely get great reviews from them.
Inquirewith your corporate HR manager or health insurance carrier what their plans are

for integration of telemedicine services into their healthcare benefits plan.

Discusstelemedicine with your government representatives. You likely know someone from school, church, or your neighborhood who works for the government or in public policy. Leverage those relationships to ensure the benefits of telemedicine are on their radar.
Use it!Try it out when you need care!

Article source here: Telemedicine: The next healthcare frontier

Upcoming Events – April 2017

Michigan HR Day
April 19, 2017
Lansing, Michigan
Michigan HR Day is an opportunity for Human Resource Professionals to exchange information, ideas, and experiences. The event will feature a keynote presentation from Matt Jones, titled "HR is a Marathon," followed by a number of breakout sessions. Visit our information booth to learn more about the benefits of offering telemedicine to your employees and enter to win a FitBit!

ATA Annual Conference
April 23, 2017 – April 25, 2017
Orlando, Florida
ATA 2017, Telehealth 2.0: The Transformation Advantage, is the world’s largest telehealth innovation and networking event, focused on how telehealth is transforming healthcare and creating competitive and cost advantages for those leveraging best practices. The featured speakers for Telehealth 2.0 include Patrick J. Kennedy, American Politician and mental health advocate; Thomas L. Friedman, American journalist and author; and Pamela Peele, Chief Analytics Officer of UPMC Insurance Services Division. Find our e-poster in the Exhibit Hall Experience Zone, and see our Executive Director, Barry Brown, present on April 24 from 5:45 to 6:00pm. If you can’t make it to our presentation, click on our e-poster thumbnail above to check it out!

MDAHU Benefit Expo
May 11, 2017
Sterling Heights, Michigan
Hosted by the Metro Detroit Association of Health Underwriters, the 2017 MDAHU Benefits Expo provides a number of featured speakers covering a wide range of topics including everything from boosting productivity to HSA Retirement. Take time to visit our information booth during the exhibitor breakfast and breaks to learn more about how we can help lower healthcare costs.

Article source here: Upcoming Events – April 2017

A Flower a Day Keeps the Antidepressants Away

But, can it really? A play on words of the often repeated phrase "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," could a flower a day be enough to lift some out of depression or keep others from needing antidepressant medication? Researchers at Rutgers University think so. As first reported in the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology in 2005, researchers demonstrated scientifically what we intuitively already know: that flowers make us happy.
The research showed that flowers are indeed a natural mood elevator, that they decrease stress levels, and improve emotional health. Moreover, results revealed that the benefits were not only immediate or when one was in the presence of the flowers. Improved mood, emotional reactions, social behavior, and memory were also demonstrated to be longer term effects.
Is it just a coincidence, then, that the growth of new plants and flowers that accompanies the lifting of winter signals another phenomenon that we also intuitively know: that of "spring fever?" We have long known of seasonal mood variations that affect us. An example you’re likely aware of is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a depressive mood disorder affecting up to 10% of the population in the winter months.

While scientifically demonstrating the effects of "spring fever" has been more elusive, our intuition tells us it’s real, just as it tells us the "flower effect" and SAD are real. The feeling of euphoria is likely due to the complex interrelationships of our circadian rhythms (our biological clock), the amount of natural light we are exposed to, and hormones produced in our bodies in response to these (and other) factors.
Hopefully you’re recognizing that a number of things can potentially improve our moods that don’t necessarily involve taking medications. We’ve touched on the positive effects of flowers already. We know there are complex changes that accompany the lifting of winter and arrival of spring. For those who suffer from SAD, we know that the use of light therapy can ease depressive symptoms. Other non-pharmacological treatments that have been demonstrated to positively affect mood and ease depressive symptoms include laugh therapy, regular exercise, and appropriate amounts of sleep (approximately 8 hours for adults). Many of these seem remarkably similar to the simple advice our grandparents used to give us!
So, we know our moods are complex, but they can be positively affected by some of the simplest things in life: flowers! Treat yourself (and someone else while you’re at it) to fresh flowers. Place them in a location where you will have repeated exposure on a daily basis, such as your kitchen counter or your desk at work. Add in the other low-cost (or no cost), low-tech interventions discussed above and you should be well on your way to an enhanced sense of well-being.
Source: Haviland-Jones J, Rosario HH, Wilson P, McGuire TR. 2005. An Environmental Approach to Positive Emotion: Flowers. J Evol Psychol. (3): 104-132.

Article source here: A Flower a Day Keeps the Antidepressants Away