Telemedicine Takes Center Stage at TEX NYC 2017

Technology is a powerful thing, but can it help us solve the health care crisis arising from the confluence of low birth rates, increasing life expectancies, and rising costs? Possibly, with the maturation of telemedicine, the delivery of medical services via a rapidly evolving telecommunications infrastructure.

At a recent Telecom Exchange event in New York, The 2112 Group CEO and chief analyst Larry Walsh moderated a roundtable dedicated to the increasingly buzzworthy conversation around leveraging technology to address the world’s health care needs. During the CEO roundtable, titled “The Telemedicine Revolution: Big Data, IoT and 5G Leading the Way,” Walsh was joined by five telecom industry veterans: Adtell’s Brian Proffit, Axiom Fiber Networks’ Felipe Alvarez, Cleareon Fiber Networks’ Cliff Kane, Lightower Fiber Networks’ Drew Mullin, and Verizon’s Nancy Green.

As the birth rate declines and people live longer, there will be fewer young people to care for the aging population. As a result, the need for accessible, affordable medical care will become more urgent. “Telemedicine isn’t necessarily about applying technology because we can. We’re doing it out of necessity,” said Walsh. “This is about applying our resources in such a way that we can gain economies of scale and provide a [higher] quality of life for the population.”

What’s interesting – as noted by roundtable participants – is that telemedicine is nothing new, even though many consumers aren’t yet using it. But as insurance carriers adapt to the times by expanding their list of reimbursable expenses to include virtual consultations with physicians and similar services; as broadband and other telecommunications networks become more reliable; and as mobile, cloud, Big Data/analytics, IoT, and automation technologies become more fine-tuned, telemedicine will move further toward the fore in the health care arena.

Of course, challenges exist. Among those acknowledged by members of the roundtable: ensuring the security of protected health information (PHI), incorporating telemedicine into 100-year-old workflows, and enhancing the resiliency of networks by pushing non-core traffic to their edges. But if the past is any indication, the combination of imagination and technology can help us clear those hurdles, and many more.