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How Telemedicine is Redefining the Management of Chronic Diseases

August 21, 2018

Our healthcare system is in dire need of help.

Adding to that, our lifestyles have changed drastically over the years - from the abundance of sugar in our diets to the lack of exercise - we are in a downward spiral.

Now more than ever, Americans are dealing with a variety of chronic diseases which are requiring an unprecedented level of healthcare. And with that, the coordination of many essential players.

How do we solve these issues?

In this episode of Healthcare Simplified, we are joined by Suzanne Shugg, CEO and co-founder of Teleplus Healthcare, a software platform incorporating telemedicine. Suzanne and her team are tackling the area of chronic disease management and the challenges that are present along the way.

Today, healthcare providers are more taxed than ever and to effectively create change, it’s important to secure their buy in.

“Doctors and nurses are spending 15-16 hours a day on work, and only about 5 of those hours are directly with patients,” said Suzanne. She went on to say, “today more than ever, there is so much disconnect and lack of communication with patients and their teams that we knew that is where change had to happen.”

The provider community is key in promoting change and we wanted to develop a chronic care system in which there are different levels that patients can connect with as needed. Ultimately, this eliminates patients having to go back into the office when it’s unnecessary and allows the communication to be clearer.

“People are unhappy with the care, there is no longer that provider that people really know” - Suzanne Shugg

The solution was obvious. To develop the proper tools for the providers and patients and within that, having an automated system that documents how much time was spent, what happened with the patient and what needs to be the next steps.

This is where Teleplus fits in.

They are trying to tackle the different chronic care conditions by working with the existing providers of patients. Currently, companies are not doing that. Typically what happens is that a software system is going to partner with a hospital and then use their providers.

Suzanne explained, “we want to make sure that we continue care and instead, just plug into their electronic medical records system. We also want to plug into the hospital; making sure everything is connected.”

Electronically with the system and personally with the patient and the care team - everything is seamless.

Determining what is a Chronic Condition

The focus for Teleplus right now is on those who are suffering from chronic conditions. So how is that determination made?

Patients are asked a series of questions and based on their answers, they are placed into specific categories such as: they need to be cared for immediately, cared for at a later date, or they are in a “good” zone. Of course communication will vary based on their needs.

Typically, chronic conditions are: COPD, obesity, congestive heart failure and diabetes just to name a few. Teleplus then brings in the software, the training and the materials, such as blood pressure cuffs and other tools.

“All of these chronic diseases have put a strain on our healthcare system. Many have dubbed it the silver tsunami,” mentioned Suzanne.

How will Tech Continue to Improve Healthcare?

Telemedicine is one of the things that Suzanne’s team focuses, and the reality is that there is a big misconception surrounding it. Most people think that telemedicine creates distance, when in fact, it is creating a much better connection.

As Suzanne expressed, “patients get to be involved with their care team. There is a lot more connectivity. We are able to integrate and pull records from different places and have them in one place. It makes communication more solid and overall streamlines everything.”

Take for instance in assisted living facilities where you can place a kiosk and have the ability for patients to interact with multiple providers. In one sitting, a patient could reach out to both their dermatologist and psychiatrist. That is a game changer.

It’s easier not only for the patient, but the provider too. With the ability to see several patients from his/her office, they save time by not having to drive out to the assisted living facility.

Each state is different in regards to telemedicine and for some patients, telemedicine is a godsend for many.

Our mission is to connect patients with their current providers and improve the system.


This post is based on an interview with Suzanne Shugg. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the Healthcare Simplified podcast here.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.


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