The Creative Destruction of Telemedicine

The Creative Destruction of Telemedicine

Telemedicine Association Annual Meeting

April 29, 2003

AgeLab’s Joseph Coughlin
delivers plenary address at American
Telemedicine Association Annual Meeting

Joseph F. Coughlin, Director of the MIT AgeLab, took center stage last week at the Orlando, Florida Convention Center Auditorium giving the American Telemedicine Association’s (ATA) first Kenneth Bird Annual Lecture.

The Bird Lecture, established this year by the ATA Board of Directors, was named for one of the first pioneers of telemedicine. In 1967, Dr. Kenneth Bird created a two-way audiovisual microwave circuit that enabled physicians at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA to provide medical care to patients 2.7 miles away at the Logan International Airport Medical Station. Scientific papers were published documenting the results of over 1000 patients that used the system.

Joseph Coughlin shared the podium with John Glaser, PhD, Chief Information Officer of Partners Healthcare Systems and Joseph C Kvedar, MD, Director of Telemedicine, Partners Healthcare Systems at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Coughlin’s lecture – The Creative Destruction of Telemedicine – traced the development and trajectory of telemedicine and how the demands of an aging population and an active healthcare consumer movement will transform telemedicine from a specialized health technology to a wellness service. He described how telemedicine would be leveraged by automobile companies, grocery stores, employers, and pharmacy chains to create ‘retail health’ access points that would provide a range of monitoring, compliance and wellness services. These competitive services would serve the ‘worried well,’ chronically ill, e.g., diabetics, as well as employers attempting to contain employer healthcare costs. Dr. Coughlin argued that the real innovation in telemedicine was yet to come and that it was not to be found in the application of novel technology, but rather in the development of revolutionary telehealth-enabled business models that drew revenue from of out-of-pocket discretionary income, employer subsidized services and competitive networks of affinity groups representing segments of the aging baby boomer population.

His lecture is based upon his on-going research on telemedicine that he is conducting with three of AgeLab’s graduate students. Shaheen Malik and Lisa Khaykin, both Technology and Public Policy students, who are conducting research on telemedicine and barriers to its adoption by physicians, nurses and healthcare insurers and Thomas Hutchinson, an AgeLab MST student, who is working with Dr. Coughlin to define how telemedicine may enter the car as a service and strategy to reduce traffic accident fatalities.

The AgeLab's telemedicine research is sponsored by EDS and is in collaboration with Partners Telemedicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University Medical School.


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