The Equipment Our Remote Care Partners Trust And How Your Business Can Offer Transborder Health Medicine

Author: Gina Cunsolo

In the age of COVID-19, remote care isn’t a novel idea. It’s become fairly commonplace for patients to take a virtual doctor’s appointment or for medical professionals to monitor patients remotely. Some even prefer remote care over in-person. One might say that because so many activities and aspects of life have transitioned from an in-person event to remote, more and more Americans are comfortable with the idea of remote care. In fact, medical research firm Parks Associates reported that 60% of U.S. with access to Internet broadband “are interested in remote care that would take place online or by telephone.” 


Why is the approval rate so high? There are many reasons. For one, it’s convenient to take doctor’s appointments from the comfort of your own home - plus, the distance enabled by technology protects patients from additional risks that could arise from being exposed to all other illnesses present in hospitals and other medical environments.


Yet, in the grand timeline of history, remote care and telehealth have only recently become a reality - and, there’s a fair amount of confusion surrounding the different terms and expectations. Therefore, looking forward, as COVID-19 continues to threaten our communities, we must begin to seriously assess the quality of our remote care partners, the telehealth equipment we use, and how to make sure you’re prepared to access high-quality transborder healthcare from wherever you are.

What does a successful remote care system look like? Before we answer that question, let’s look at the history of remote care, the difference between telehealth vs. telemedicine, and the roadblocks to improvement that have occurred over time.

History of Remote Care

The initial demand for telemedicine and the technology that enables it came from the needs of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Nebraska Psychology Institute in the 1960’s, because of the need to monitor healthcare across time and space for astronauts on space missions. However, here on earth, one the primary motivations for investing in telehealth has always been to provide enhanced health care delivery to medically underserved populations with geographic disadvantages.

Over the past 20 years, there have been a number of legislation measures passed to aid in the advancement of remote care and telehealth practices. A few of these include: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.


However, since Covid-19, telehealth efforts have intensified. As hospitals and patient care facilities became overwhelmed with countless sick patients, too few PPE and medical equipment, and burned out staff members, telehealth and telemedicine services seemed to be the only option to allow doctors to safely continue administering patient care.


Though previous obstacles to telehealth adoption and use haven’t completely disappeared, the immediate need spurred on by the Covid-19 pandemic led to swift changes. In March 2020, the Trump administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced approval of telehealth services coinciding with the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. This measure enabled most Medicare patients to access remote care free of charge, regardless of their location. 


Since then, telehealth and telemedicine use has only grown in popularity. Many of us have come to expect that our healthcare experiences will require technology - whether it’s booking an appointment online, accessing a portal to retrieve test results, or even FaceTiming our kid’s doctor.  A wide variety of medical practices now offer virtual care, ranging from dermatologists to virtual therapy appointments. Moving into 2022, this trend will only continue. 


Considering the inevitable reality of ubiquitous healthcare technology, it would help to clear up the confusion surrounding the various terms around this topic, specifically telehealth vs. telemedicine.


Telehealth vs. Telemedicine:


While many have come to understand telemedicine and telehealth to be synonymous, this is untrue. As many online publications from WHO and other organizations have attempted to communicate, telemedicine is one component of the much broader idea of “telehealth”.


“Telehealth is a very broad category of solutions that service patients at a distance — so it could be doctor visits at a distance, it could be chronic condition management, it could be managing high-risk pregnancy. But doing that at a distance, doing it remotely,” explains Care Innovations COO Marcus Grindstaff in a video from the RPM Academy. In other words, telehealth encompasses all aspects of medical practice that are not performed in-person.


While telemedicine is the practice of medicine using technology to deliver care at a distance, and is limited to clinical care, telehealth is a wider category, and also includes aspects of healthcare that are not clinical. Don’t forget - healthcare workers include far more than doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, and nurse practitioners. Those workers are considered “clinical health care workers” because they all work directly with patients providing care. 


However, we also all know there are many employees who work behind the scenes at hospitals or care facilities, also called “non-clinical” healthcare workers. These non-clinical roles include medical coders and billers, employees in IT or human resources, or even medical science liaisons and biomedical engineers. Individuals working in these roles all need to become familiar with a different aspect of telehealth, depending on the type of non-clinical role. 


Whether healthcare workers are clinical or non-clinical, all need proper training, guidance, and equipment in order to successfully function in a telehealth universe. Many need access to patients’ EHR, or electronic health records. Others must get comfortable with the ways AI is changing medical affairs. Most importantly, doctors and other clinical health professionals must be equipped with technology that works. When remote care technology works, clinicians can seamlessly connect with their patients, and do not get distracted or disrupted by technical difficulties. A successful technological connection, and easy-to-use equipment, increases the quality of remote care.



Roadblocks to Remote Care


What are some of the challenges to successful remote care? Firstly, lack of internet access has prevented many from accessing telehealth care. Without being able to connect to the Broadband Internet, urgent care telehealth - and many other virtual disciplines - can’t happen.


You may know that Broadband Internet access expansion has become a hot topic over the past two years, not just for telehealth purposes, but for remote work and remote education. As offices and schools closed, and employees, students, and teachers were forced to teach, learn, and work from home, the need for faster and more wide-spread Internet access sharply pushed its way to the forefront. States across the U.S. took measures to increase Internet access for their populations in many ways: creating policies, providing funding and operations to underserved communities, and engaging with stakeholders at the local and Federal level.


Secondly, there have also been challenges surrounding the legality of multi-state service provision. In order to successfully offer cross border telemedicine, several health organizations must be able to communicate about procedures, compliance, urgent care telehealth, remote care equipment, medical malpractice, and legal obligations and responsibilities across border lines. 

This concept has become especially pertinent during the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve all heard stories about people we know finding out they’ve tested positive for COVID while visiting family cross-country, or while vacationing in Aruba. It has often proved incredibly difficult to navigate the particular country or state’s healthcare regulations. Ideally, patients shouldn’t have to worry about how and where they can receive care when they’re in a foreign country, even if there are language barriers. Urgent care telehealth combats this reality, as it grants each individual access to their own existing provider from wherever they are in the world.
Finally, there is a major lack of providers who are equipped to handle the demand of telemedicine. Many healthcare providers have been slow to accept the pending reality of ubiquitous remote care, and have not invested in the proper telehealth equipment, nor have they trained their staff to administer treatments in this way or monitor their patients remotely. 

In a research article, “Only 15 percent of FPs Report Using Telehealth; Training and Lack of Reimbursement are Top Barriers,” roughly 8 in 10 family physicians expressed their opinion that telehealth creates greater access to patient care, and almost 7 in 10 feel that telehealth technology boosts continuity of care over time. Despite the strong support, not many physicians reported using telemedicine in the past 12 months.


The reason? “More than one-half of FPs identified lack of training and reimbursement as key barriers to adoption of telehealth,” explained principle investigator Miranda Moore, PhD, economic and health services researcher at the Robert Graham Center. Without the proper equipment, telehealth providers can’t be trained. And, without the proper training, telehealth efforts are halted.


Remote Care Equipment

Taking all of this into consideration, we must successfully empower our healthcare providers - and the general public - with the tools necessary to interact and engage with patients both near and far. Here are some of the most highly-recommended connected health devices.
  1. GYANT


GYANT is a medical tech company that uses AI and ML chatbots to help patients assess their medical history and understand which healthcare options are best for them. Thanks to the power of AI, a user’s medical information is discovered and analyzed. They quickly receive a diagnosis, recommended self-treatment, or referral to the best suited environment for care. 


GYANT isn’t only helpful for the patient - it’s also beneficial for the provider. Making the switch to telehealth can make it difficult for providers to quickly access their patients’ information. This removes the weight of workload from charting and administrative functions. Furthermore, after the visit, GYANT regularly follows up with the patient and continues to remind them of any necessary treatments or preparation for upcoming surgeries or procedures. Because remote care means taking care of patients via technology, it’s incredibly helpful to have all patient information easily accessible via technology. 


Why GYANT? This telehealth service boasts continuous success because of its extremely high patient rating, an average of 4.9 stars. Furthermore, almost 95% of patients who start a session with GYANT complete the session. 

  1. MindMics


When most think of earbuds, they don’t necessarily think of a medical device. One company out of Cambridge, Massachusetts is trying to change that. 


MindMics, founded by a NASA Einstein Fellow at Harvard, is a telehealth company that has developed a next-generation digital health tracker to capture patients' heartbeats and biorhythm markers. While the market for digital health trackers is rather large, MindMics’ key differentiator is it’s incredibly personalized approach. These earbuds are designed to detect the most complex heart rhythms, even atrial fibrillation, and help patients comprehensively monitor their own health in real life. Furthermore, heart monitoring isn’t limited to heartbeats - the MindMics solution also measures blood volume and flow, and valve performance. By incorporating the MindMics solution into a daily routine, patients can achieve an unmatched understanding of their own health, without ever having to step into a doctor’s office.

  1. Yamaha UC


Though telehealth may not be the first thing to come to mind when you hear the words “Yamaha”, it’s worth noting that Yamaha Unified Communications does provide world-class audio solutions for doctor’s offices and all types of medical professionals. It’s important to remember the A side of AV in telehealth. Without clear audio, virtual appointments suffer.


Here are a few Yamaha UC products and use cases for the telehealth industry:


YVC 330:


The YVC-330 is a Bluetooth Personal Speakerphone that can be used in a wide variety of telehealth functions. The most popular use case includes installing a YVC-330 on a medicine cart, to be rolled into a hospital room and used by patients. This allows patients to effortlessly connect with doctors in another room, or with their family back home, with the help of a nurse or medical attendant.

The YVC-330 is the perfect audio telehealth solution because it is both a microphone and a speaker. Furthermore, it is built with Yamaha’s own SoundCap Technology, which limits background noise and allows the patient to be heard clearly. Considering the wide array of noise continuously heard in hospitals, this noise-canceling technology is crucial to make sure the person on the far-end can understand the patient. 




Yamaha’s VSP-2 Speech Privacy System can provide a security sound blanket over sensitive virtual appointments and conversations. How? Let’s explain:


The VSP-2 Speech Privacy System uses revolutionary speech masking technology to reduce human speech intelligibility for the external, accidental listener. In other words, if a doctor is taking a virtual telehealth call from his or her home, the doctor runs the risk of releasing sensitive information to whomever could be in close proximity. Rather than force their spouse or roommates to stay in another room, the doctor can use the VSP-2 Speech Privacy System to mask the sound and make it more difficult for other parties to accidentally eavesdrop on the conversation.


EDU Kit Wireless Microphone System


When considering the intersection of telehealth and education, it’s important to consider how medical students can continue to benefit from medical school in a remote setting. One way to accomplish this is to outfit all professors with good wireless audio, like Yamaha’s EDU Wireless Microphone System. These hands-free microphones allow professors to seamlessly perform educational medical demonstrations for their students.


In sum, telehealth and remote care aren’t going anywhere. It’s important for all medical providers and patients to be aware of the equipment that enables world-class care and to prioritize creating access to this equipment.


It’s also important for the public to be aware of the differing telehealth rules and regulations of transborder health medicine, especially when traveling.


Before you travel, do your research on:

  • What are the conditions and terms of your healthcare and any possible insurance reimbursement?

  • Do you have the right to access healthcare in a different country?

  • What is the national contact point for the country you’re traveling to?

  • Where in the country can you access the safest and highest-quality treatment?

  • How do you file complaints if something goes awry with your procedure or treatment?


If you need a way to incorporate remote care equipment into your medical practice or daily routine, Yamaha Unified Communications is ready to assist with the equipment you need. Click here to learn more!