For those of us who have been following the very slow process of insurance providers, consumer and medical industry acceptance of E-Health or E-Care technology the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging may have offered a glimmer of hope that there is movement along with a peek at the not to distant future of medicare adoption priorities.
By adopting new e-health technologies the U.S. government aims to reduce the cost of medicare by changing the way it pays doctors who would be allowed to bill for internet based visits with patients in addition to in-person visits.
Five percent of medicare beneficiaries who in most cases have one or more chronic conditions constitute 43% of medicare spending, according to Dr. Mohit Kaushal, Digital Healthcare Director at the Federal Communications Commission. Testifying before the committee he also said “… there’s a set of broadband-enabled health information technology, both now and emerging from development, that can mitigate many of these issues and reduce the cost of care while improving clinical outcomes.”
While the government’s focus is on saving money the private sector sees a bigger role for health technology. Eric Dishman, global director of health innovation and policy at Intel Corporation, compared e-Care to the e-mail revolution of the late 1990’s, saying that “New health technology is not meant to replace the doctor-patient relationship. … None of this effort is about replacing the traditional doctor-patient relationship, but it’s about enhancing and extending it to more people and regions of the country,” said Dishman.
“Just as e-mail became a new way of interacting with other people that didn’t replace all other forms of communication such as phone calls and letters, e-Care uses new technologies to create a new way of providing care that complements – but doesn’t replace – all clinic visits,” he said.
To promote the bigger e-health picture and encourage greater acceptance of health technologies a new organization is forming called AgeTek Alliance. A consortium of age-focused technology providers its purpose, in part, is “to promote the awareness, benefits and value of products and services for our aging society.” We look forward to tracking their progress, as well as other assistive technology trends, and continue to feature new products and services in our AIP Tech Center.