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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Telemedicine = Borderless Philanthropy

Beyond the allure of the latest mobile devices and nearly life-like videoconferencing, to me the most exciting aspect of telemedicine is its potential to break philanthropic and humanitarian barriers over the next decade. The opportunities here are game-changing and may soon actually be life-changing. With all the best healthcare resources – physicians, equipment, facilities, medication – heavily concentrated in the most developed countries, and the world’s neediest populations located so far away, using new technologies to bridge the gap can truly solve medical crisis’ around the globe.

For decades, medical relief nonprofits have rescued and cared for people in crisis-stricken communities, facing the horrors of natural disasters, malnutrition and disease epidemics. Doctors Without Borders /Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), one of the world leaders, empowers nearly 27,000 aid workers each day, organized into teams to provide care internationally. Astonishingly, they’ve conducted up to 9 million outpatient consultations in a given year! Certainly other leading NGO’s, like the American Red Cross and UNICEF, have improved the lives of millions in developing countries by bringing healthcare and relief where none existed. Can you imagine the exponential impact this same nonprofit community will have once it starts employing telemedicine technology on a wide-scale? We could literally multiply this number of underserved people being treated around the world. Quite an idea.

Well there is one such nonprofit blazing a trail in this endeavor, and is being led by an unlikely pioneer. Hollywood and music icon Jennifer Lopez (yes, J. Lo!) recently teamed up with her sister Lynda to launch the The Maribel Foundation. Maribel is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the health of women and children in under-privileged areas all around the world…and doing this through the innovative power of telemedicine. Lopez explains, “Our organization will focus on the health and well-being of women and children, adopting a strategy that will achieve maximum impact in the area of children's health worldwide, through our commitment to telemedicine. Telemedicine is a remarkable new healthcare delivery system that uses telecommunications technology to remotely treat patients.” Maribel will build telemedicine clinics all over the world to provide patients access to care from physicians at one of America's top pediatric hospitals: the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

While this is only one such effort, it’s a step towards a whole new way for nonprofits to help those most in need. Healthcare philanthropy is now borderless….and will soon be limitless.

~Alex Price

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Government Push for Medicine's "Electronic Age"

It's a really interesting time for the health care industry. As 2011 approaches many physicians are preparing themselves for the electronic age where medical records will no longer be stored on paper. Here is a great article describing the still elusive definition of "meaningful use" and how a physician will qualify for the financial incentives promised by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the HITECH Act (Health Information Technology and Economic Clinical Health).

According to the HITECH Act, eligible professionals (physicians, dentists, chiropractors, and in some circumstances physician assistants and nurse practitioners) can qualify for up to $44,000 through Medicare and $65,000 through Medicaid for transitioning their medical notes from paper based to an inter-operable electronic format. The federal government's goal in this incentive is to establish a national initiative to ensure medical data is submitted to CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) where the information can be used to establish comparative analysis of disease management and improve disease outcomes through evidence based medicine in a cost effective way.

It's an ambitious objective, with the potential for game-changing impacts on medicine. The process, however, won't be an easy one. Read article.

~ Dr. Kevin Friedman

Monday, November 1, 2010

Palm Beach Post features iMD and its “Community of Care”

Last month, the Palm Beach Post ran a great feature article announcing the launch of our videoconferencing technology. The news piece did a nice job a describing the benefits of telehealth, and the quality of our providers, but what was most important to me was the description of one of our new members, Ron Perry.

Ron, like so many self-employed people, doesn’t currently have insurance and feels he can’t afford the time or expense of taking even a half-day to go see the doctor. I see this situation among so many small business owners and self employed people, especially in the past two years of the economic downturn. We feel everyone should establish a trusting relationship with a primary care physician, as this is certainly the optimal situation for all of us as patients. However, I’m glad to know our solution is making life easier for the small business community, as they truly are the backbone of America’s economy....and their vision and commitment should be applauded.

Have a read and let us know what you think.

~Alex Price