“By connecting doctors to patients and doctors to doctors over the internet, programs like ours help keep patients local.”
OffSite Care (OSC) started as an intensivist-centric service provider supporting the critical care needs of the rural ICU using telemedicine. Over time that shifted to include remote hospitalist services at night. Eventually, we began staffing in-person programs and developed a few hybrid models to include in-person by day and tele by night – all the while expanding our specialty service offerings – in order to best meet the needs of our customer base. Like OSC, healthcare and healthcare delivery models are ever in flux. Whether it’s shifting tides due to different payment mechanisms, government regulations, advancements in technology, patient demographics, or the growing shortage of doctors in a particular medical field, how we receive our healthcare is constantly changing.
Telemedicine is on the forefront of that change and the evolution of healthcare delivery. Surprisingly, the old adage that “all healthcare is local” rings true even when provided by a clinician 100 miles, or even 5,000 miles away, with the use of technology. By connecting doctors to patients and doctors to doctors over the internet, programs like ours help keep patients local. Avoiding a costly transfer to a distant facility when it’s safe to do so improves the lives of everyone involved. The patient avoids the price and inconvenience of an expensive ambulance ride or helicopter/airplane flight, the patient’s family is relieved of travel costs and the loss of productivity from missed work to visit their loved one, the patient’s primary care physician is able to stay involved in the case, and the dollars that are spent on healthcare stay in the local community. All this is made possible while the patient is receiving care from an expert that, for many different reasons, may not be available locally.
I’m excited for what the future of telemedicine brings to both the commercial and consumer side of healthcare delivery. When our founder and medical director James K. Gude MD decided in 2006 to take big city medicine to rural America using the internet and technology, we never imagined how quickly the landscape would change. Modifying and evolving our delivery models and adapting to the advancements in technology platforms has been key to our success and longevity in this relatively new space. Medicare and other payers of healthcare services continue to play catch-up to what’s happening in the field and advances in medicine. As they do, more players will enter the market and over time, telemedicine will become synonymous with medicine.
Chief Executive Officer