Telehealth, the provision of healthcare remotely through telecommunications networks, has the potential to increase access to healthcare, drive better outcomes, reduce costs, ensure healthcare professional satisfaction, and improve the patient experience - five factors that indicate the success of value-based care systems. The latest Future Health Index report shows that connected care technology is already a reality in specific parts of the healthcare system, offering notable benefits in radiology (tele-radiology) and pathology (tele-pathology), where it allows the secure and seamless sharing of medical images for better diagnosis, treatment, follow-up and workload distribution. It is also beginning to be used in general practice (telemedicine), remote patient monitoring and the tele-Intensive Care Unit (tele-ICU).
"Telehealth is the ultimate example of connecting people, data and systems so that everyone, wherever they are in the world, can access a quality of care that enables them to live a healthy and fulfilling life," said Jan Kimpen, Chief Medical Officer for Philips. "In radiology and pathology, especially in the diagnosis of cancer, telehealth solutions are already helping clinicians to make first-time-right diagnoses that allow patients to get the right treatment, in the right place, at the right time. At the same time, the ability to share content knowledge with colleagues anywhere in the world makes clinicians' own lives more rewarding and satisfying. Today's Future Health Index report goes a long way to identifying what needs to be done to make the same happen in many other areas of care where telehealth has the potential to improve the lives of patients and caregivers with sustainable solutions."
The 'Future Health Index: delivering value across institutional and geographical borders' report highlights many inspiring successes in telehealth, such as its role in implementing the tele-ICU - an intensive care unit where critically ill patients, who could benefit significantly from the opportunity to detect adverse events earlier, can be remotely monitored 24/7 or on a consultative basis by clinical experts located within regional, national networks or in different time zones. However, it also reveals that the rate of adoption of telehealth solutions worldwide is still relatively slow, even in the radiology community where less than half (39%) of the radiologists surveyed stated that they use connected care technologies in their practice . This slow rate of adoption is also evidenced by World Health Organization (WHO) figures, which indicate that only 22% of countries have national telehealth policies, and by the 2018 FHI report finding that only 31% of the countries surveyed by the FHI had clearly defined rules governing the collection, protection and sharing of data. Yet these policy decisions are essential precursors to national telehealth initiatives.
In total, the report identifies five key factors that are potential, though not insurmountable, barriers to widespread telehealth adoption: outdated reimbursement and payment models, cultural attitudes, lack of financial incentives, restrictive policies, and inadequate technological infrastructures, such as broadband access. Drawing on the results of academic studies and in-depth interviews with key opinion leaders, it puts forward a set of actionable recommendations to overcome these barriers.
The report ends with a clear statement that, as with other aspects of connected care, success in telehealth will ultimately be based on the involvement of multiple actors - healthcare professionals, the general population, payers, regulators and the private sector - together with the recognition that healthcare is, at heart, a human field that depends on people.
To download the full 'Future Health Index: delivering value across institutional and geographical borders' report and for additional Future Health Index related content, please visit:
The Future Health IndexThe Future Health Index (FHI)  is a research-based platform designed to help determine the readiness of countries to address global health challenges, such as the aging population, and build sustainable, fit-for-purpose national health systems. Conducting research that spans 16 countries using a multitude of metrics, one of its key findings is that integrating connected care technology into health systems can accelerate countries along the path to value-based healthcare, delivering better patient outcomes at lower cost via patient-centric delivery models. The latest report focuses on telehealth as a driver of change in the transition to value-based healthcare and universal health coverage, one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
About Royal PhilipsRoyal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people's health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips' health technology portfolio generated 2017 sales of EUR 17.8 billion and employs approximately 77,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries.
1. Small base size, findings should only be used directionally.
2. The FHI survey data was collected January 18, 2017 to March 3, 2017 for 15 of the 16 countries analyzed in 2018 (Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US) in their native language. The survey had an average length of 25-30 minutes. A combination of online, face-to-face (computer-assisted) and phone (computer assisted) interviewing was used. Survey data for India was collected during February 16, 2018 to March 26, 2018 in a manner consistent with the other countries in 2017. The total sample from the survey includes 3,244 healthcare professionals (defined as those who work in healthcare as a doctor, surgeon, nurse practitioner, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse or nurse across a variety of specializations) and 24,654 adults (representative of each country's respective adult population). Further details on methodology and a full list of sources is available here.