VeaMea (now swy|me) visited the American Telemedicine Association Annual Conference in Tampa this past week. It was an interesting conference with thousands of participants, and hundreds of vendors.
We had some interesting conversations with people who are, or are going to be, practicing Telemedicine as well as a variety of support organizations.
Here are a few highlights:
- Rural Healthcare Telecom Subsidies — The Universal Services Fund has $400 million in telecom subsidies to give away each year. They have only been able to give away about 1/3rd of this amount and are eager to meet their goal. Funds are available to rural hospitals who want to purchase telecom infrastructure. The funds equalize the rural cost (higher) with what an urban customer would pay (much lower). All one needs is to qualify and apply. More information is available at the USAC website
- Windows Tablet — With all the fuss about the Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy, Motorola XOOM, and other Android tablets, I have not heard/seen much about Windows-based tablets. iTablet was showing off a 12″ ASUS Tablet running Win 7 with an Intel Core i5 processor, Integrated Camera and 2 USB ports (among other nice features). I could start to imagine it as a new model of roving telemedicine workstation.
- Telehealth market segments — We say telehealth, but the term is really too broad. There are a wide variety of sub-segments like in-home monitoring, outsourced access to specialists, mobile “doctor’s office in a bus,” telecom infrastructure, regional information clearinghouses, and point solutions for physician consultations, health records, and more
- Rube Goldberg or Best of Breed ? — There are a lot of solutions in place, providing care to patients. People have cobbled together solutions from various vendors to make something that works. An example is Medtrix; I shared a table with its President Yves Bitton who took the ooVoo video conferencing engine and wrote his own application and security structure around it so they could provide telehealth services to 4 million subscribers of the largest HMO in Israel. Another example was a US Army application that uses a Citrix server side-by-side with a video conferencing station to create desktop sharing + video conferencing. We talked with a variety of other service provides who wanted a stable, secure, video conferencing and collaboration platform to tie into their applications. They recognize that the AV part is “hard” and look for solutions like VeaMea to take away their pain.
- Uncertainty — There is still plenty of uncertainty about what is, or will be, compliant with standards and rules developed by Government agencies (HHS, CMS, NIST, DISA, etc.) as they evolve
- The world is watching — I met several people attending form other countries, looking to the US as the cutting edge of what is possible and trying to see how it could fit into their healthcare delivery models.
A question for other attendees, what did you learn at the conference that you found most interesting?