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Illinois Telehealth Initiative featured on TechAccessTV

Host Bruce Montgomery interviews Broadband Illinois Deputy Director Laura Lane and Telehealth Consultant Nancy Kaszak about the importance of telehealth and the Illinois Telehealth Initiative. 

Aired: March 20, 2015


Missed the Illinois Telehealth Initiative launch? 

See full video coverage of the announcement, HERE


Illinois Telehealth Initiative Launched to Improve Adoption

One of the major challenges in the healthcare realm is the growing gap between the number of people covered by some form of health insurance and the number of doctors that are available to see and treat them. This gap has grown since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. At the time, former US Surgeon General Dr. Everett Koop predicted that by 2025, there would be a projected physician shortage of 130,000.

One of the biggest ways that the industry can ease the burden brought on by this growing gap is through the use of telehealth technology. This happens three different ways. First it allows physicians to take advantage of unused time. If a patient were to cancel an appointment at the last minute, a physician can take appointments through telehealth.

Second, it provides patients in rural areas with access to specialists. Through the use of telehealth, patients and rural hospitals can access specialists that would otherwise be unobtainable. This increases the quality of care that can be provided in rural locations.

Finally, it opens up the available pool of physicians that patients can access. This also stretches beyond the rural/urban split to include the rest of the world. This means international physicians can be called upon to help US patients, thus decreasing the gap.

To help support the growing use of telemedicine, some organizations are coming together to push the use of the technology. Last week, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois announced the launch of the Illinois Telehealth Initiative. It aims to improve the quality of healthcare by expanding geographic availability and reducing healthcare costs.

The new initiative is being backed by the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council (MCHC).

“Each year, hospitals across this region treat an increasing number of patients in need of psychiatric evaluation, and most institutions, due to budgetary restrictions or location, do not have 24/7 access to psychiatric support,” Michael Wahl, MD, Medical Director, MCHC, said in the press release. “For institutions in such a situation, MCHC is proud to offer the Midwest Telepsychiatry Consortium, a groundbreaking solution to help providers increase access to psychiatric care, enhance the quality and efficiency of ED treatment regimens, and significantly reduce boarding times for behavioral health patients in distress.”

Several other healthcare organizations are also onboard through MATTER, a Chicago hub for healthcare innovation. It will form a committee to actively demonstrate telehealth service effectiveness. The organization is still looking for addition partners to support the Illinois Telehealth Initiative with either financial contributions or participation.


Illinois Telehealth Initiative looks to improve, expand virtual care

Robotic ultrasounds, virtual diabetes coaches and video software for mental health consultations are just a few of Chicago’s forays into telehealth.

But without proper infrastructure, virtual medicine can’t work the way it’s supposed to. One state organization wants to change that.

Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a Springfield-based nonprofit that aims to promote high-speed Internet connectivity for healthcare and other uses across the state, announced Monday the launch of the Illinois Telehealth Initiative. The initiative, announced at Chicago's new Matter healthtech incubator, aims to improve the quality of healthcare, expand the geographic availability of access to care and reduce costs.

Partnership for a Connected Illinois is establishing a steering committee for the initiative and seeking partners to support the program through participation and funding, the organization said.

Telehealth includes technologies such as video or online doctor visits, remote monitoring of vital signs, online support groups and self-management platforms. The organization has partnered with the Illinois Medical District, the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council and telehealth startups at Matter.

“If you’re not right next door, you might be disparate from that world-class healthcare,” said Dr. Nina Antoniotti, executive director for telehealth and clinical outreach at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. “How many neurosurgeons live in Cairo? How many high-risk OB doctors live in Murphysboro?”

For Sarah Doherty, co-founder of Matter-based TeleHealthRobotics, the announcement signals an effort to make technologies such as remote ultrasound more widely available with the necessary network infrastructure and broadband access. TeleHealthRobotics has built a system for patients to get ultrasounds through robotic kiosks from physicians located elsewhere.

“Telehealth is being made a priority,” Doherty told Blue Sky. “We think that telehealth has the potential to alleviate the state’s and the nation’s crisis in healthcare access.”

David Cohn, founder of Regroup Therapy, emphasized the importance of the initiative for his business. His company connects therapists and clients online through secure live webcam video sessions.

“There are a lot of different components [to what Regroup does] — they all rest upon reliable Internet access,” he said. “Anyone that’s working to increase internet connectivity, especially in mental health shortage areas, is a valuable service for us.”

Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune


The Illinois Telehealth Initiative Launches to Aid the Country's Projected Physician Shortage

As a result of both budget cuts across the entire healthcare space and an aging population, the former Surgeon General of the United States hypothesized that by 2025, there would be a physician shortage of over 130,000. Fewer doctors, more problems.

And this projected shortage places an increased emphasis on telehealth, the use of technology and data to support long distance health care. That's why, this morning, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois (PCI) announced the launch of the Illinois Telehealth Initiative, a campaign to expand the geographic availability of access to healthcare. The announcement was made at MATTER, Chicago's new hub for healthcare innovation, and the initiative is backed by the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council (MCHC).

"Each year, hospitals across this region treat an increasing number of patients in need of psychiatric evaluation, and most institutions, due to budgetary restrictions or location, do not have 24/7 access to psychiatric support," said Michael Wahl, MD, Medical Director, MCHC.

"For institutions in such a situation, MCHC is proud to offer the Midwest Telepsychiatry Consortium, a groundbreaking solution to help providers increase access to psychiatric care, enhance the quality and efficiency of ED treatment regimens, and significantly reduce boarding times for behavioral health patients in distress."

To identify and executive new telehealth projects, PCI will establish a steering committee for the campaign. This committee will be charged with actively demonstrating the effectiveness of telehealth in improving  access to healthcare while also reducing costs. Also, per the morning's press conference, the initiative will be developing plans "for regional and statewide telelhealth networks."

At today's announcement, several MATTER members were in attendance to represent the innovation that's already happening in-state in the telehealth sector. These startups include TelehealthRoboticsa company that's leveraging low-cost robotics to ensure that ultrasound exams can be performed remotely, and Regroup Therapy, a HIPAA compliant video platform built specifically for mental and behavioral health.

PCI is currently seeking partners to support the Illinois Telehealth Initiative through participation and fiscal contribution.