Telehealth represents an exciting frontier of electronic medicine with the potential to overcome barriers of time and distance to improve access, enhance efficiency and reduce costs. The ability to connect clinicians with patients via video and voice has proven effective in treating conditions such as stroke. Today, with many trials currently under way or in planning stages around the country, telehealth appears to be ready for widespread adoption that has the potential to transform healthcare delivery. The global telemedicine market is expected to grow by almost 20 percent over the next few years from $9.8 billion in 2010 to $27.3 billion in 2016.
Using a hub-and-spoke model, telehealth enables major medical centers to extend their reach to smaller suburban and rural facilities that typically lack a wide range of specialists. For instance, some rural states have adopted telehealth programs with a primary stroke center in a larger city serving as the “hub” providing neurology consults for a network of smaller community hospitals.
It’s a model that improves care and access to specialists, reduces costs and increases consults – an important revenue source for major hospitals. To help CIOs plan a successful launch, here are four keys to success to consider before selecting a partner.
1. Reliability. To support quality care, physicians must be able to interact with patients the same way they do when they are in the same room – without annoying technology glitches. It’s challenging because telehealth workstations require interactive communications systems, large high-resolution LCD screens and remote control cameras – along with power systems capable of ensuring mobility. Given the time-critical nature of consults for patients suffering from strokes and other medical emergencies, system reliability is paramount. Choose workstations and software providers with a proven record of reliable performance.
2. Ease of Use. To support smooth adoption, choose software that offers an intuitive, easy-to-use interface and supports secure access and sharing of patient health information using one interface. Clinicians should be able to complete training in 30 minutes or less– and later operate the system comfortably in demanding situations even if they do not use it frequently.
3. Mobility. Point-of-care mobile workstations are the most common telehealth platform due to their high performance, lower overall costs and compact form factor. Due to the variety of possible placements in a facility, carts offering a smaller footprint, along with a range of clinician preferred accessories for customization, should be at the top of your list of requirements when selecting a workstation for your facility. In some patient care settings, wall-mounted options may be essential due to space limitations or other factors, so your provider should be able to offer a range of solutions to seamlessly accommodate these needs as well.
4. Flexibility. While initial adoption may be focused on a single specialty, such as neurology, the system should readily scale to other departments. Providers and insurers are looking to telehealth as a solution to vexing challenges ranging from reducing unnecessary ER visits to improving access to behavioral health. So as you’re planning your trial, be sure to look ahead to broader deployment in departments such as pulmonology, psychiatry and cardiology.
The global telemedicine market is expected to grow by almost 20 percent over the next few years from $9.8 billion in 2010 to $27.3 billion in 2016.
The global telemedicine market is expected to grow by almost 20 percent over the next few years from $9.8 billion in 2010 to $27.3 biI hope these tips help make your telehealth project a success in improving care outcomes and generating positive ROI for your hospital. If you are planning a trial, or have a project under way, let us know how it’s going. How have the four issues I’ve explored impacted your project?