Las Vegas Sun

December 18, 2018

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Letter to the editor:

Strides made in telehealth

In research from Becker’s Hospital Review, Nevada was ranked among the top in the country for telehealth. That’s shorthand for innovations in remote health care delivery that are improving patient care. From free nurse hotlines to digital apps, health plans are making care more convenient and accessible, providing immediate answers to patients’ questions and supporting them in their efforts to stick to a care plan.

These advances are prominent in Medicare Advantage. Health plans have recognized that many factors beyond genetics and current health diagnosis affect patients’ wellness. Known as “social determinants of health,” they include transportation access, health knowledge, nutrition, socioeconomic factors, and the depth of one’s social network.

For example, many seniors, suffer from chronic loneliness, which is proven to accelerate mental and physical decline. Health plans are responding with programs to bring seniors together for fitness activities, redesign medical facilities double as social centers and more. They also use individualized care coordination to tap into support services from the insurer, local volunteer organizations and government programs.

These were the types of innovations discussed at a recent health care forum in Las Vegas. Fortunately for patients, they aren’t isolated examples, nor are they limited to Medicare Advantage. Telehealth is becoming a central component of employer-based, individual, union and other health plans — and that’s good for us all.

The writer is president and CEO of Nevada Senior Services Inc.