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Telemedicine: Reducing the Costs While Enhancing the Quality of Health Care

NetworkNewsWire Editorial Coverage: Nature’s impact on health care can’t be overstated in light of the nation’s recent spate of natural disasters that have battered Texas, Louisiana, Florida and California. Residents in these states face incredible challenges when it comes to finding proper medical care, but it’s not just during times of natural disaster that people need access to quality health care. It is also an everyday problem for millions of Americans living in rural regions designated as “medically underserved.” Telemedicine offers solutions that can make a significant difference to location-based health care challenges by offering access to services regardless of an individual’s location. Several companies offering telemedicine solutions are Medical Innovation Holdings, Inc. (MIHI) (MIHI Profile), Teladoc, Inc. (TDOC), Cigna Corporation (CI), Anthem, Inc. (ANTM) and UnitedHealth Group, Inc. (UNH).

In its 2017 Leadership survey, The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) reported an increasing demand for telehealth care services, with 98 percent of telemedicine executives stating that organizations offering telemedicine have a competitive advantage over those that do not (http://nnw.fm/29NLg). The report, based on 171 respondents in executive leadership positions representing telehealth service providers, health care practices, and hospital systems, offers an overwhelmingly optimistic view for the future of the telehealth industry. This positive attitude is based not on wishful thinking, but on the undeniable fact that patient-centered health care and electronic health record (EHR) interoperability is becoming a critical piece of the nation’s health information network.

In its “State of Telemedicine Report Reassessed for 2018,” health care brand strategy consulting and marketing communications firm Brandigo also reports that telemedicine is one of the fastest growing sectors in the overall health care market. The industry is on track to grow from $25.5 billion in 2015 to $57.92 billion by 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of nearly 18 percent over the next five years (http://nnw.fm/G7mxa). Educating patients on how to use this valuable resource will make a sizeable difference in how fast and how far the industry grows.

Colorado-based Medical Innovation Holdings (MIHI) is quickly becoming a vital part of this expanding virtual health care industry. MIHI owns and operates strategically aligned health care service companies focused on the delivery of clinical virtual medicine, also known as telehealth and telemedicine. Through its wholly owned subsidiaries, MIHI provides personalized high-tech, high-touch telemedicine encounters pairing its virtual health specialty doctors with primary care physicians. This synergy of forces includes the use of nextgen virtual health technologies that connect a patient with a multi-disciplinary specialty clinical health care practice (http://nnw.fm/c1Gyd).

MIHI also provides ancillary products and services that improve health, provide product choices, and increase engagement and revenue. These services include lab, nutraceuticals, prescriptive medicine, and remote diagnostic support. The company’s recent launch of Telemedicos USA, a Spanish-language health care platform positioned to address the 58 million Hispanics living in the United States, is addressing another immediate, glaring health care need (http://nnw.fm/Aap7E), and demonstrates the company’s ability to recognize a market opportunity and execute a plan to meet industry demand.

“This was a natural evolution for us. We purposefully positioned MIHI for this market because we understand the nuances of providing services to such an ethnically diverse group that make up the Hispanic community,” MIHI CEO Jake Sanchez stated in the news release. “We have a Mexican-American CEO, two of our three board members are Hispanic (Mexican American and Colombian), and some of our largest shareholders are Panamanian, Puerto Rican and Cuban. We know the Hispanic community, and the community knows us.”

Telemedicos USA will use primary care, on-demand telemedicine services to provide unparalleled access to health care, including pharmaceuticals, alternative medicines and patient portals to create a cloud-based electronic medical record that effectively “travels with the patient.”

MIHI’s vastly different approach stands out from a growing field of telemedicine providers by delivering virtual telemedicine with a unique, customized software and hardware platform. Through its MSO, 3PointCare, MIHI’s telemedicine approach is unlike other providers who rely on a monthly subscription with patients required to pay an encounter fee every time an on-demand physician is utilized. Under that approach, the continuum of care is broken, insurance may not be accepted, symptom-based diagnoses are the only reference, and there is no certainty the patient is being cared for by a licensed practitioner, changing the relationship from an actual medical practice to a contract service delivering virtual care.

Under MIHI’s visionary approach and through its 3PointCare, doctors are deployed through an established medical practice without requiring a subscription fee. The company works with anyone covered by insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid, in a partnership with the patient’s primary care physician. Deductibles can be captured, which allows patients to take advantage of medical tax deductions, since MIHI utilizes an integrated software application that enables the processing of insurance claims so that doctors are paid for their services.

The company’s TeleLifeMd, a multi-disciplinary specialty health care practice with strong experience in telemedicine, primarily delivers patient medical care, while 3PointCare has a unique and exclusive relationship with the service. It is a well-rounded, reliable method of providing all levels of service needed by a medical practice seeking telemedicine options. From providing telemedicine hardware and software products and support, to processing claims, paying all invoices and payroll incurred by TeleLifeMd, as well as any other service required to operate the practice, the continuum of care remains unbroken providing a critical connection between patients, medical providers, and health care specialists.

Another telehealth company opening its virtual doors to patients is Teladoc (TDOC). The company’s network of more than 3,100 members delivers on-demand health care to millions of patients via mobile devices, the Internet, video and phone. Teladoc members recently announced free consultations to victims of Hurricane Harvey, whether they were members of the service or not. The company said in a press release it would provide non-emergency medical care to those people displaced from their regular doctors and routines (http://nnw.fm/272lJ).

The idea that large health care organizations can offer real-time help through telemedicine is taking shape in other ways. Cigna (CI), one of the nation’s largest managed-care organizations with a little over 14 million medical members, recently reached out to victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, offering online support services for anyone affected by the tragedy in any way (https://www.cigna.com). Cigna typically provides health insurance services to individuals mainly through the group or employer market. Cigna is a leader in the commercial self-funded fee market and participates in other insurance and retirement businesses.

Prior to the approach of Hurricane Irma in September, Anthem (ANTM) announced that it would also offer free online medical and psychological visits to anyone impacted by the natural disaster (http://nnw.fm/jikF8). With approximately 40 million members, Anthem is one of the largest managed-care organizations in the United States. The company provides health insurance services to more than 74 million people through its affiliated companies.

UnitedHealth Group (UNH) provides health insurance services to about 46 million medical members. The company provides health insurance services to its members through products for every major insurance market and delivers back-office services to providers through its Optum segment. UnitedHealth Foundation supports telemedicine services through a variety of methods, including offering grants to community initiatives developing new health care technologies (http://nnw.fm/3yW13).

Telemedicine continues to be one of the fastest growing sectors in the overall health care market, with most employers either in the planning stage of offering the service or already providing it to employees. This type of health care delivers new options to patients via a virtual encounter with qualified medical professionals. Telemedicine allows patients to have a continuous conversation with their primary care physicians, keeping patients more satisfied, while enabling physicians to gain a greater share of health care revenue. Online consultations with specialty care physicians are another important benefit of the rise in telemedicine, as are what some may call “curbside” consults for patients living in extremely rural parts of the country, according to an article in Forbes (http://nnw.fm/j7fSN).

Reducing the cost of health care while simultaneously increasing the quality of care and improving access to health services for millions of people will take a unique, forward-thinking vision made possible by companies that are strategically forging ahead as telemedicine pioneers. Natural disasters aren’t the only time when telemedicine is destined to shine. It is in the everyday, individual approach to helping people live better, healthier lives by connecting them with medical providers who want to take a more comprehensive, continuous role in patient care.

For more information on Medical Innovation Holdings, please visit: Medical Innovation Holdings (MIHI)

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