imageDr. Joseph Kvedar has led the Center for Connected Health for as long as I’ve used the word “telehealth” in my work – over 20 years. After two decades, the Center and other pioneers in connected health have evidence proving the benefits, ROI (“hard” in terms of dollars, and “soft” in terms of patient and physician satisfaction), and technology efficacy for connecting health.

The 11th Annual Connected Health Symposium is taking place as I write this post at the Seaport Hotel in Boston, bringing health providers, payers, plans and researchers together to share best practices, learnings and evidence supporting the adoption of telehealth.

The technology is getting ubiquitous and relatively inexpensive: building on the web, cloud computing, ubiquity of mobile platforms and Wi-Fi networks, along with evolved information standards for imaging storage and movement, and the mass adoption of electronic health records —  the technology side of the connected health equation is falling into place.

Both providers and patients have reason to come to love and appreciate connected health: convenience for patients, productivity improvement for physicians, and cost-savings for both parties, are bringing symmetry and engagement in connected health.

Payment — the biggest historic barrier slowing the adoption of telehealth programs — is finally moving from fee-for-service to value-based regimes in many forms: paying for performance, bundling payments, and artful attention to behavioral economics for patient payment sharing. No longer is telehealth only justifiable in the VA Health System, at Kaiser and Geisinger. Mainstream health providers in middle America can now justify launching and investing in telehealth, with sustained business models beyond living on grants.

And employers are hot on virtual health care, looking to lower costs and move care to the most appropriate settings that can also simultaneously lower costs. Towers’ latest employer health benefits survey found surging interest in telehealth.

In introducing this first day of the Symposium, Dr. Kvedar announced a new joint venture between the Center with Daiichi-Sangkyo to co-develop a mobile tool for patients managing atrial fibrillation (AFib). It’s as hard for pharma industry to move to the next business model as it is for health care to move away from fee-for-service, Dr. K observed. This is an exciting development because it’s a tool for sick people to use — not for the well and fit.

Stay tuned to Twitter’s hashtag #CHealth14 and this blog for more learnings from the Symposium.