Industry Partnership DistribuCare Unites Three Telemedicine Technologies

The partnership, called DistribuCare, links together health integration from Carousel Industries, case-load management software from NuPhysicia and enterprise videoconferencing capabilities from Polycom into a single package for health-care providers' telemedicine needs.

DistribuCare uses the technology from the partnership to create a virtual waiting room to help reduce waiting time in busy doctor's offices or provide additional support to remote locations. Carousel provides the delivery vehicle for NuPhysicia's software and Polycom's video capabilities.

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While telemedicine has been in place and growing for quite some time, this is the first partnership that packages the solutions together instead of health-care providers having to piece it together themselves, said Carousel's director of business development, Brian Douglas. Gone are what Douglas called the "wild wild West days" of telemedicine, where health-care providers had to assemble their own solutions.

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"This is a tried and deployed solution but it's never been put together in a way that people could consume it easily, and know what to buy and have someone qualified to deploy it," Douglas told CRN.

Douglas said Carousel has seen interest in telemedecine growing in larger hospitals, but it has also seen increased interest from physician practices, insurance groups and enterprise companies. The biggest shift in telemedicine growth is due to increased awareness and familiarity -- customers are coming to Carousel asking for telemedicine packages instead of having to be convinced they need it, like in the past.

"It's sort of a critical mass. We think of the reimbursement environment improving, mainline health systems [and] insurance payers showing interest in part for the first time, and then you have the whole consumer revolution happening," Douglas said.

Health-care companies increasingly are less able to expend large amounts of money on the hardware and technology needed to implement and maintain a telemedicine system, he said.

"These are very hard things to figure out on their own. Carousel ... has done this many times and we know how hard it is for someone to start. We put this together so someone could step into it, not only from a technology perspective, but also a financial perspective," Douglas said.

Going forward, Douglas said he sees even more growth ahead for the telemedicine industry through doctors, pharmacies, retail and more, putting the DistribuCare partnership in a good place to capitalize on a growing market.

"That's where it's going -- the question is who is going to deliver this service into the home? Is it going to be a portal from a retail company? Is it going to be a portal from an insurer? Regardless, Carousel will be underneath that, providing the engine allowing that interaction to occur," Douglas said. "That's the exciting thing. To enable care where care was not enabled before or to be able to make a difference in the way things were being done and not working. It's a new way to help people and that's really cool."