Palliative care: now directly at home thanks to videoconferencing

Videoconferencing can become a real lifeline for patients who live in remote locations or who lost their mobility.

It can be difficult or even impossible to provide palliative care to patients who live in remote rural areas. Especially when a disease impairs or prevents their mobility. A recent survey commissioned by the PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) in Northern California proves that videoconferencing can transform palliative care at a distance from a mere idea into reality, providing patients with a real help.

Covering large distances

Michael Fraktin is a doctor specializing in palliative medicine. Like most of the doctors who practice palliative care, Dr. Fratkin helps to manage pain, but also strives to go beyond its mere physical aspect. To offer this type of personal care one needs time, and since most of Dr. Fratkin’s patients live in remote places, far from his studio, it becomes almost impossible. To understand the distance that Dr. Fraktin sometimes needs to cover to help his patients, it’s enough to consider the fact that some days he has to ask for help a Cessna pilot: “Our service area extends 100 miles north and south and about 60 to 80 miles from beach eastward”.

Solution: assistance by videoconference

“Just over a year ago I had a work burnout. I had no assistants, and I was wondering how I could meet the demand that this community has for palliative care”, Fratkin says. “But then I finally came up with a solution: videoconferencing. Thanks to videoconferencing we can travel all these distances instantaneously. Our relations with patients are solid and full of mutual trust, it works great”.

Value-based payment model

Videoconferencing creates innovative methods of payment for medical visits. Dr. Fraktin is looking to replace the traditional “pay-per-service” system with a “pay-per-value” model: “Each patient participating in the program is provided with a per-member per-month amount. It doesn’t matter if we see the patient once a month or twice a day. The only thing that matters is that we deliver value that makes sense to that patient.” And for patients who face incurable diseases, this care is really priceless.

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