Telehealth expands care delivery to meet more patients’ needs.

With COVID-19 making constant headlines, any good news in the healthcare realm is more than welcome. The ongoing rise of telehealth—the distribution of health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies—is especially promising.

Telehealth enables a variety of long-distance interactions between patients and clinicians, including care, advice, education, intervention, monitoring, and remote admissions. In cases where rural settings, lack of transportation or mobility, or lack of staff restrict peoples’ access to care, telehealth can bridge the gap.

Recent research indicates that telehealth is growing at a rapid pace. A report by Market Research Future (MRF) says the global telehealth market is on pace to see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23% between 2019 and 2024, reaching a valuation of $16.17 billion by the end of the forecast period.

Even before the Coronavirus pandemic, the telehealth sector was poised to thrive due to growing demand—and consumer preference—for sharing information using a digital platform to improve communication. Easy access to various healthcare services, cost-effective and systematic procedures, better research and development facilities, and improved technology are now more important than ever.

Telehealth is transforming care delivery across the US today, as demonstrated by two enterprise organizations that are bringing mobile-first care and positive outcomes to individuals and communities.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs makes healthcare accessible for rural patients.

The idea of telehealth is nothing new for the VA—in fact, the agency conducted its first telehealth instance back in the 1960s when VA physicians communicated with patients via closed-circuit television. And once again, the VA is creating new ways to serve veterans by embracing the latest technology to offer veterans more convenient care outside their typical doctor’s office.

“The VA takes care of nine million veterans,” says Deborah Scher, Executive Advisor to the VA Secretary. “A third of them live in rural communities in America far from a VA medical center. How do we reach them? We knew that telehealth was going to be part of the answer.”

The goal of the telehealth initiative is to enable veterans to meet virtually with their care providers—regardless of their location—through an easy-to-use platform called VA Video Connect. The platform allows veterans to meet with their providers via an encrypted video conference call and on nearly any device that can connect to the internet and is equipped with a web camera, microphone, and speakers—like smartphones, tablets, or laptops.

“The VA takes care of nine million veterans. A third of them live in rural communities in America far from a VA medical center. How do we reach them? We knew that telehealth was going to be part of the answer.”

Deborah Scher, Executive Advisor to the VA Secretary

Delivering the service requires reliable internet connectivity. Veterans living in rural areas often can’t access broadband internet, and the unlimited mobile data needed for telehealth sessions can be costly.

T-Mobile is helping the VA extend healthcare access to veterans by providing 70,000 wireless lines of service, which brings the service to many veterans throughout the country. Today, as the pandemic requires sheltering at home in many communities, the VA is seeing a 800% increase in telehealth visits, with up to 16,000 telehealth sessions per day.

Looking ahead, the emergence of 5G will deliver higher speeds, lower latency, and nationwide connectivity. This could have a big impact on care delivery through telehealth services—and the VA is at the forefront of this innovation.

Want to learn more about the VA’s telehealth program?

Easterseals Southern California leverages mobile technology to challenge perceptions of disability.

The mission of Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) is to help people with disabilities, empowering them to engage with their communities and reach their own unique potential.

Technology plays a key role in the nonprofit organization’s efforts, and mobile platforms in particular are giving people with disabilities the ability to communicate in ways most of society takes for granted. For ESSC, robust cellular connectivity and mobile devices help associates in the field boost collaboration, streamline documentation, and nurture independence for program participants.

"We have 77 locations that used to have their own phone number,” says Beverlyn Mendez, COO at ESSC. “Now everybody has a unified communications number and it doesn't matter whether you're at an office or you’re strictly mobile or a little of both. Associates can connect to everybody seamlessly the same way."

This is important because ESSC’s associates rely on their smartphones and tablets to manage everything about their clients’ services, including entering data and filling out forms.

By having strong, reliable mobile connectivity wherever its clients live and work, ESSC can invest more in changing the way the world views disability. Without this, the organization would spend more time and effort trying to connect its 2,800 associates and 13,000 participants while serving fewer people in fewer locations.

T-Mobile for Business partners with ESSC to help the organization extend services further into communities, providing meaningful support to more people. “Our services are all community-based, so having the continued and reliable access through T-Mobile is essential for our staff to provide those services,” says Mendez.

Learn more about ESSC’s partnership with T-Mobile.

ESSC uses tablet devices with an application designed to help non-verbal people communicate more effectively. By enabling participants to tell people about their world, interactions can improve dramatically. Having the ability to communicate with others and contribute to a group has a deeply connecting effect—increasing confidence, self-esteem, and the desire to have more positive interactions and relationships.

And having access to the latest mobile technology enables ESSC to consistently innovate services for participants. As a “mobile-first” organization, the focus on applications and devices forms the important backbone of the organization's technology strategy.

“Utilizing T-Mobile technology in new and innovative ways provides us vital tools that can be shared with our participants, which in turn enables them to advocate for themselves in a very meaningful way,” says Nancy Weintraub, chief development officer at ESSC.

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