Transforming the Telehealth Paradigm
Sustainable Connectivity, Accessibility, Privacy, and Security for All
ABOUT THIS PROGRAM
The use of telehealth to connect with patients was slow to migrate into healthcare practice. Before the recent pandemic outbreak, healthcare practitioners demonstrated more activity in the use of telemedicine for their practice (Physician’s use jumped 340% between 2015 and 2018; and 77% of patients embraced the concept of virtual care*). The slow acceptance and matriculation of telehealth into healthcare practice left many challenging technical and ethical issues on the backburner. With the dawn of this pandemic, telehealth was unleashed to the global patient population out of necessity, creating an environment where the impetus of patient security and privacy have been deprioritized (in the case of using commercial/consumer apps to fulfill needs), where the underserved and unconnected are further endangered without any kind of access. As with other industry sectors, the process and operations of healthcare will be reimagined. Telemedicine will revolutionize the healthcare ecosystem from drug/therapy development through to bedside practice. However, it is critical that both patients and healthcare practitioners can have affordable and sustainable access and trust in the systems they use.


 * “5 trends emerging in telemedicine in 2020,” January 2020, The DO, American Osteopathic Association
 
INTRODUCING THE IEEE SA INDUSTRY CONNECTIONS (IC) PROGRAM
 
The IEEE SA Industry Connections (IC) Program is a neutral platform for incubation enabling interested stakeholders to collaborate, evaluate, and commence development of specification for potential standards or certifications programs. The platform fosters collaboration for participants to test ideas, build consensus on potential solutions and determine the viability whether developed specifications could evolve into technical or open source standards or certification programs. IC programs are designed to host multiple pre-standards working groups to address the many different variables of the solutions needed. Although all groups may not escalate into a standards working group, there are always outcomes from the work of each group to be shared with the global community. Participants are not required to be IEEE and/or SA members. They should be open to progressive thinkers and committed experts who want to contribute towards creating trusted solutions and enabling universal quality “standard” of care and safety for all patients.

TELEHEALTH PARADIGM GOALS


The objectives of this program are to enable collaboration, build consensus and develop technical solutions:

  • Enable rural and/or unconnected patients to have quality sustainable access to digital health opportunities

  • Afford the right to privacy and security when utilizing any type of tele-healthcare delivery platform

  • Address inconsistent or absent technical, security encryption and interoperability protocols with mobile tele-healthcare platforms

  • Create a reliable resource for healthcare practitioners and facilities to best evaluate solutions and guidance for utilizing a trusted telehealth platform

  • Establish the foundation of security, connectivity, accessibility and privacy for future technological innovation in telehealth delivery

PROGRAM DELIVERABLES

 
The Industry Connection program will consist of workstreams that will identify gaps  where solutions are needed in the domain, address the viability of standards development, guidance and documentation in the form of whitepapers and roadmaps addressing the following opportunities:

  1. Establish a consensus-driven definition of sustainable accessibility, secure and private connectivity of voice, data, broadband, and/or satellite communications for rural or unconnected patients that would eliminate obstacles, and provide universal quality of access to digital health for all patients 

    • Develop consensus on technical solutions based on previous and existing pilots and contributions from service providers to assess what technical standards may be fast tracked (where applicable)

    • Expand patient access to telehealth services regardless of geographic location with affordable, sustainable and compliant connectivity so that healthcare providers can be reimbursed and patients can be covered by public and private insurers

  2. Develop a robust consensus-based anti-fraud solution that will help ensure the secure delivery of medically appropriate telehealth services to patients

  3. Establish a patient-based trust solution that incorporates ethical, privacy and data security protections along with regulatory guidelines (HIPAA, GDPR, etc) to safeguard both patient and healthcare practitioners

  4. Create a trust certification program for telehealth platform for practitioners and other users of it

  5. Ensure interoperability of mobile healthcare platform to patient EHR (patient’s interaction with doctor reflected in electronic health record)

  6. Enable the trusted foundation for the use of autonomous instruments - AI, robotics for telehealth delivery and care

  7. Develop reliable and quality solutions for rural connectivity encompassing long range point-to-point and wide-area point-to-multipoint in licensed and unlicensed networks providing security and privacy for patients

IMPACT ON INDUSTRY
 
  • Regulatory policy that reflects standards and guidelines development

  • Engagement from industry Standards Development Organizations to contribute to or reflect on standards and guidance

  • “Certainty” from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and other public and private insurers to cover all telemedicine claims regardless of geo-location (rural, etc)

  • Moving the needle from 14% physicians using telehealth to more than 50% of access for practitioners to use compliant mobile healthcare platforms

  • Elimination of state/regional regulatory and licensure barriers to the practice of telehealth

  • Establishing trust amongst healthcare providers and patients that platforms are secure, HIPAA/GDPR compliant, and interoperable

  • Providing quality and sustainable access to digital health for communities who do not have healthcare facilities within a 100 mile radius to their home

  • Enabling decentralized (virtual) clinical trials - for more inclusion of patient diversity, reduction of trial costs to sites, reduced risk amongst patients with infectious diseases

  • Telemobile critical care and emerging care units - bringing the Intensive Care Unit and Urgent Care to the home for the immobile patient

  • Remote patient monitoring for real-time autonomous collection of patient data for therapy effectiveness, adherence and other diagnostic opportunities

  • Reduction of stress on healthcare and physician facilities through the use of the platform for non-life threatening situations

  • Universal acceptance by private and public healthcare insurance providers to cover associated costs with telehealth delivery when following protocols

  • Enabling a harmonized inter-jurisdiction licensure regulatory process for telehealth delivery 
      

INTERNAL IEEE ADVISORS
INVITED CATEGORIES OF ENTITY PARTICIPATION


The enclosed list of companies and organizations is a sample representation. The program will recruit as many as these types of entities for respective projects to build consensus and develop trusted solutions.

  • Cybersecurity Providers

  • Government Regulatory and Research Institutions

  • Health Insurance Providers

  • Hospital/Health Systems

  • Industry Associations, Consortia and Alliances

  • Mobile Healthcare Providers

  • Technology Developers (Robotics, AI/ML, Blockchain/DLT)

  • Telecommunications Companies

  • Telehealth Platforms

WHO TO CONTACT?

 
For information on how to participate and/or introduce topics for workstream evaluation, please write to Maria Palombini, m.palombini@ieee.org.

The IEEE SA Telehealth Industry Connections Program will go for official project instantiation in September 2020.

 

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