Four Laws Enabling Telemedicine to be Better, Faster & Cheaper

When Gordon Moore observed in 1965 that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years, he didn’t have telecommunications in mind, per se. But, clearly we’ve seen Moore’s Law at work in the dramatic increase in computing power – and lowering of cost of microprocessors, memory capacity, sensors, and the number of pixels in digital cameras. And, it turns out, Moore wasn’t the only genius with a “Law” named after him, particularly in the area of telecommunications. Marty Cooper, who conceived of the mobile phone – and led the Motorola team that brought the first one to market in 1983, noticed that the number of simultaneous conversations (voice or data) that can be conducted over a given area of the radio spectrum doubles every 30 months – and has for the past 106 years. Thus, substantiating Cooper’s Law, the effectiveness of personal communications has improved by over a trillion times since the days of Marconi, when only 40 separate conversations could be held simultaneously on the earth’s surface. Gerry Butter’s Law of Photonics posits that the amount of data coming through an optical fiber doubles every nine months, meaning that the cost of transmitting a piece of data on an optical network decreases by half during the same period. Although, for us consumers, Nielsen’s Law of Internet Bandwidth states that a high-end user’s connection speed only grows by 50% a year.
The net result of all these Laws is that we can hold great video conversations on our phones or computers with our friends, family, coworkers (around the world), and our doctors.
Over the past 18 years of holding ABL’s Innovations in HealthcareTM event, five telemedicine companies have brought home ABBY Awards. The first was Sutter Health eICU, in 2007, which was among the early adopters of Visicu’s technology that allowed offside Intensivists to check in remotely on Sutter’s ICU patients located in the system’s 26 hospitals. Three years later, Specialists On Call won an ABBY for tele-delivering neurologists and other high-demand and expensive specialists into hospital EDs. The following year, Teladoc won its ABBY for providing contracted employers with on-demand remote medical care for their employees via mobile devices, the internet, video and phone for their employees. By 2014, anyone needing urgent care could contact a Doctor on Demand, for just $75 for a 15-minute medical consultation (subsequently psych visits were added).
And this year, Dave Skibinski, CEO of SnapMD, won the Gold ABBY Award for his company’s Virtual Care Management SaaS-based, telemedicine platform – a full-service, white-label platform that allows providers to leverage secure one-on-one live video, audio, and text message consultations between ambulatory patients and their primary and specialty care physicians. So thanks to Messrs. Moore, Cooper, Butter, and Nielsen, and their Laws, every time a new telemedicine approach is launched, it ends up enabling remote healthcare that’s better, faster, and cheaper than that which was previously available online, let alone by waiting in line. Little wonder that 52% of Kaiser’s 100+ million physician encounters are now virtual.