NewYork-Presbyterian announced a new suite of digital health service platform, NYP OnDemand, the other day. The new launch has led the platform to provide digital second opinion to the patients, digital emergency urgent care and digital inter-hospital consultation while the ‘digital follow-up appointment’ will be functional from autumn 2016. These services will be made available on the NewYork-Presbyterian website and mobile app.

The massive project was made possible by financial support from Rita E and Gustave M Hauser, NewYork-Presbyterian’s longtime philanthropic partners. The NYP OnDemand suite of services was developed by NewYork-Presbyterian’s Innovation Center, which was launched in 2014 to provide clinical and patient focused solutions to enhance medical care delivery.

It offers a suite of different services that focus on patient satisfaction and connecting physicians, patients, clinicians, health experts and medical professionals via a global healthcare network.

Among the first services available for patients is NYP OnDemand Second Opinion. It was launched earlier this summer and is a joint effort between Columbia Doctors and Weill Cornell Medicine. The service allows patients to get a second opinion on their diagnosis given by doctors at New York-Presbyterian, from anywhere in the country directly from the comfort of their homes. After the patient has received the second opinion, the patient can then assess how to proceed in receiving medical care, and if they want to continue treatment with New York-Presbyterian. Currently, NYP OnDemand Second Opinion is offered by over 300 physicians in 80 medical specialties. The first launch took place in 2014 to improve care delivery to the clinicians and the consumers looking for the healthcare solutions.

In addition to the patient access services, NYP OnDemand also enables real-time peer-to-peer physician consultations within the nine hospitals that are part of the NewYork-Presbyterian healthcare system. The NewYork-Presbyterian Telestroke Initiative, which has been deployed at NewYork-Presbyterian/the Allen Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital, uses video conferencing and data sharing to allows continuous 24/7 coverage for acute stroke care with quick assessment by a neurologist with specialization in stroke treatment.

To date, the telestroke service has resulted in improved treatment times which has been shown to improve overall patient health outcomes. In the coming months, additional digital consultation services such as behavioral health, emergency medicine and pediatrics will also be established.

Other services included are Inter-hospital Digital Consults, Digital Emergency and Urgent Care and Digital Follow up Appointments. Inter-hospital Digital Consults service connects patients at NewYork-Presbyterian’s Regional Network Hospitals to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital specialists. This allows for greater access to advanced, patient-focused specialized treatment methods for patients across the New York City metro region and facilitate real-time communication between providers.

Digital Emergency and Urgent Care will focus on telemedicine, a unique way of bringing medicinal services to the patient using a webcam in real time over the internet. What this means is that as part of a new pilot program, visitors to the Lisa Perry Emergency Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell can now make use of a virtual visit through real-time video interactions with a health professional after having an initial triage and medical screening exam. This process will take place in a private room with a webcam/monitor, which will greatly reduce time spent in the emergency department.

For any non-emergency conditions that require immediate treatment, patients will eventually also be able to access a separate virtual urgent care service from NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell doctors from their sofas the NYP OnDemand smartphone application. Digital Follow-ups will launch in September 2016 and will provide patients a virtual follow-up “visit”, instead of asking patients to come back to the office in person. The service offers a more convenient way to access care without another trip to the doctor through a live video conference. Users can access this service on their mobile phone, tablet, or personal computer, from anywhere with a WiFi connection. As with an in-person visit, doctors can prescribe medications if required.

“When patients visit ColumbiaDoctors at NewYork-Presbyterian, they know they will see outstanding physicians who will combine the latest technologies with highly personalized care and caring. This new suite of digital health services will help to maintain and enhance that experience,” said Dr Lee Goldman, Chief Executive of Columbia University Medical Center.

How Is Telemedicine Helping Patients Around The World?

It is found that telemedicine can help patients with heart problems. On 1 June, 2016, British Medical Journal (BMJ) published the results of a controlled trial where the use of digital health technologies by non-clinical staff showed positive clinical benefits. Groups at high risk of cardiovascular diseases were provided better care and support with the use of the Healthline services, which is one of the leading healthcare established telehealth company. The approach was successful in lowering the blood pressure and weight of study subjects, reducing the risk of stroke by 23% and heart attack by 15%.

There are a lot of companies that are heavily invested in telemedicine, one example is Teladoc, that uses telephone and videoconferencing technology to provide on-demand remote medical care via mobile devices, the internet, video and phone. Hence it knows the potential of such technology.

Telemedicine is quite beneficial since it allows remote communication with doctors 24/7. With the click of a button, patients can make use of this technology to get a clear diagnosis, without even leaving one’s sofa. Hence, telemedicine is especially beneficial in backward areas where infrastructure is poor.

It cuts down traveling times and costs. It enables real-time analysis and diagnosis, so if a person suddenly gets sick, he doesn’t have to wait for days, weeks or even months to get an appointment. He just needs to make a “call” and he will be immediately connected with a qualified healthcare official, just like calling your mobile operator to take care of your technical difficulties.

Telemedicine helps solve many of the biggest challenges in healthcare today, including the pressure to improve outcomes, expand access, and increase efficiencies, all while reducing cost.

Future Of Telemedicine

According to a study, telemedicine in the future will continue to move healthcare delivery from hospitals to users’ homes. As more and more users start to adopt smartphones, tech companies will invest heavily in this sector. Nokia says that digital health care will increase by 37% over the next five years and will be the fastest growing healthcare sector.

The future of telemedicine will depend on these three major factors: human factors, economics and technological advancements. Social behavior changes related to technology affect change at the individual, organizational and societal level, one example is the current craze of Pokémon GO. Human resource shortages and decreasing third-party reimbursement are significant drivers of technology-enabled healthcare in the industrialized world, particularly in the areas of home care and self-care. It is clear that scientific advancements in mobile communications, sensor devices and nanotechnology will have a significant impact on the way healthcare is delivered in the future.

Currently telemedicine is far from perfect. How technologists deal with issues of security, reliability and privacy will determine its scope in the future.