The health care world is changing. New technologies are moving the field in new and different directions, all of which is good news for patients.

Take, for example, how hospitals and health systems are using telehealth to expand access to care, improve outcomes for patients and reduce costs. We released a report at last week’s AHA Leadership Summit that shows how seven hospitals and health systems are using telehealth to expand access to opioid recovery programs, early intervention services for people with chronic conditions and specialty care for patients in underserved communities, among other benefits, often at lower cost.

Just one example: The first 100 patients enrolled in a diabetes telehealth pilot at the University of Mississippi Medical Center saved Medicaid more than $300,000 during the first six months of the program.

Hospitals are embracing telehealth because it offers such benefits as virtual consultations with distant specialists, the ability to perform high-tech monitoring without requiring patients to leave their homes, and less expensive and more convenient care options for patients. They can provide mental health services to areas without access, expanding the availability of these services to smaller, more remote areas.    

The innovations taking place throughout the health care landscape ultimately come down to how they benefit patients and communities – whether by improving access to care or sharing data to help them make a more informed decision about their health care. Telehealth illutrates how hospitals are continuing to keep their promise of care in new, non-traditional ways that extend well beyond their four walls.