Joel E. Barthelemy, Founder & CEO, GlobalMed
The grandeur and breathtaking beauty of America’s most famous geological landmark, the Grand Canyon, has long attracted visitors with its dramatic sunrises, adventurous rock climbing, and the lifestyle of the Havasupai. Their reservation is at the bottom of the canyon. At sunset, the community members find themselves in the dark, even if it is for accessing medical care during emergencies. With helicopter services suspended during the night, reaching out into the deep gorge is challenging and arduous. When Flagstaff Medical Center decided to end this condition, GlobalMed had the answer, Telemedicine—the idea of using telecommunication and information technologies to provide clinical healthcare solutions from a distance. With expertise in solving such challenging issues, Joel E. Barthelemy and his GlobalMed team along with Flagstaff Medical Centre, engaged in designing and implementing transportable medical stations for helping the tribe. Today, the Havasupai tribe has access to quality healthcare 24/7. “The unattended healthcare needs of millions of patients in the remote and rural areas are expected to intensify in the coming years. Telemedicine or Connected Health can play a huge role in improving outcomes of the healthcare sector,” says Barthelemy, CEO, GlobalMed.
"Telemedicine is the right technology that can play a huge role in bringing down costs and improving outcomes in healthcare"
According to the American Association of Medical College, the U.S. will need 91,500 more primary care physicians by 2020. The report further estimates that the U.S. has 24 physicians per 10,000 people and by 2020 that could drop to 21 or 22 per 10,000. Fuelling these worries is the situation of residents, who are typically cut-off from full-purpose hospitals and specialists, just like the Havasupai tribes. Addressing the issue, Barthelemy pitches that GlobalMed’s telemedicine can bridge the healthcare gaps in the most cost-effective way. “It can bring a huge change in the urban health systems also, to protect health care workers from contagions like Ebola,” he adds.
Barthelemy believes that telemedicine can create a huge impact in bringing down the patient transportation cost—studies have shown that small hospitals transfer patients to larger hospitals due to lack of specialist physicians. Often, these patients are discharged within 24 hours after expensive tests. In some cases, emergency aircraft flies the patients, adding thousands of dollars to the healthcare episode bill. GlobalMed believes that telemedicine technology can change this inefficient healthcare space-for better. “Telemedicine can enable a small hospital to connect with a specialist in an urban area for a patient consultation that could forestall a costly transfer, validate the decision to move the patient, or eliminate the need for a higher level of care,” explains Barthelemy. For example, Neurologists, seeing rural based stroke patients via telemedicine, can determine whether the patient is suffering a stroke and order a course of clot busting drugs, sooner rather than later.
Telemedicine, Telehealth, eHealth, mHealth, iHealth, Virtual Health— it’s all the same concept, getting the right information to the right provider at the right time
GlobalMed has played a vital role in reducing the number of patients transferred unnecessarily from rural to urban areas in the past few years.
At an instance, the emergency consultations at the Summit Hospital in Show Low, Arizona, were more than 24,000 and the number of patients transported with potential stroke or head trauma was over 200. GlobalMed’s CapSure Cloud Services allowed distant specialists to review CT scans within minutes and determine whether a patient needs to be transferred. Within two years, the number of patients transported declined to 25. With the number of healthcare consultations expected to increase from 5.7 million in 2014 to 113 million in 2018, Barthelemy is also foreseeing a huge market for GlobalMed’s growth. The fact that U.S. department of Veteran Affairs alone did over 2 million telehealth consultations since 2010, adds to the scope of this market.
eNcounter, GlobalMed’s Highlight
GlobalMed’s telemedicine solutions go beyond the typical cart to make technology more mobile and accessible to suit the needs of the patients. Enhancing their vision of providing quality, timely care for everyone, GlobalMed innovated the eNcounter Services software platform—an integrated telemedicine station that brings together GlobalMed’s devices and those from other companies to be housed and connected within the platform. It allows healthcare providers to focus more on patients. Engineered to reduce the complexity of acquiring, storing, sharing, and securing patient data and images, eNcounter streamlines the workflow of the medical devices to support healthcare protocols. The platform helps to exchange medical data, deliver consultations, perform procedures, and conduct examinations by removing the barrier of geography through telemedicine stations.
GlobalMed’s ClinicalAccess Station is another revolutionary product designed to streamline workflow by integrating seamless video-conferencing with other medical devices to deliver timely, secure, and quality healthcare solutions practically anywhere. An array of devices can be integrated to the ClinicalAccess Station by simply sliding their modules into place. “We’ve designed some stations for ease of movement between examination rooms, over door thresholds, and into elevators, but others can be mounted on the wall (taking up less space than a book shelf), or travel inside the overhead compartment on an airliner. These smaller solutions have the same functionality as the larger systems,” explains Barthelemy and further adds, “these types of connected health solutions will improve patient outcomes and lower costs.”
The Secure Advantage
Globally, large retailers and employers are investing in telemedicine to keep their employees healthy and lower the insurance cost.
Adding to this, as medical providers increasingly employ remote communications and monitoring technology to reduce costs and improve the quality of care, the market for telemedicine solutions is expected to grow by more than a factor of 10. However, Barthelemy points out that, with this rapid growth, the security of data exchanged through telemedicine solutions is a major concern. “Our team makes sure that the technology has the highest level of trust and quality. We design and implement secure, high functioning innovation engines that simplify the care delivery process. This can only be achieved through collaboration with clinicians, patients, and cross-functional teams,” asserts Barthelemy who also suggests that physicians and hospitals should invest in secure resources to deliver better service. “What we find in the market is the integration of different products to deliver turnkey solutions. In such a scenario, when an issue pops up, no one claims responsibility. We trounce these challenges by designing and manufacturing products, ranging from in-house medical devices to telemedicine software to fully equipped telemedicine stations. Our mission is to create accessible healthcare solutions that match our clients’ expectations,” he adds.
A Resilient Research Team
Barthelemy credits GlobalMed’s success to his R&D team for its innovative product designs and implementation process. “We are on a mission to transform healthcare globally by developing and integrating secure, efficient health delivery systems that improve access and quality of care while eliminating unnecessary costs,” he adds. GlobalMed’s team of experts also works closely with scientific and medical professionals to understand the unmet needs of integrated telemedicine tools. “We are a group of engineers and clinicians who look at the issues and tailor design systems to solve problems,” states Barthelemy.
The Road Ahead
GlobalMed intends to launch new applications on handheld devices to improve and increase clinical access. In the $36 Billion U.S. healthcare market, Barthelemy believes that the products marketed should be qualified and safe to meet the expanding demands of virtual care, well beyond traditional health system boundaries. “We will also continue development efforts to enable deeper integration of patient data and workflow solutions across disparate health information systems. These ingredients are market mandates in order to achieve customer adoption among patients, providers, and the ultimate data gatekeepers—chief technologists,” says Barthelemy.
Stint with Rio Olympics 2016
GlobalMed is also looking ahead to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games for raising international awareness of the role and value of telemedicine. As envisioned by their team, the big plan is to position mobile, suitcase-sized telemedicine units, called Transportable Exam Stations, at key venues throughout Rio to serve the needs of athletes and spectators. The team is now looking forward for a comprehensive but adaptable project plan, including a thorough assessment of potential risks and challenges. Through initiatives like this, GlobalMed plans to widen its current reach (GlobalMed has presence in more than 35 countries), along with expanding the role of telemedicine in the healthcare sector. “What telemedicine does is, it stretches healthcare all the way to where the patients are,” says Barthelemy. “There is no doubt that it is the new face of healthcare innovation; it would be inadequate if you do not call it a ray of hope for the improvement of global health care.”