The Doctor is In: Telemedicine – ‘Next Big Thing’ or ‘Chronic Underachiever’?
(ED: Sure, we all know that Telemedicine has made a few false starts, from long ago. But today’s rapid convergence of tech of wireless, mobile, broadband, seem to make it a surer possibility)
Dr. Robert Cuyler
Telemedicine is a sweepingly broad term for the electronic delivery of healthcare. The landmark book “History of Telemedicine” grapples with definition but settles on the following: “the delivery and receipt of personal health services via electronic information and communication technology.” In this blog series, we will look at the emerging world of telemedicine and focus on what is working well and not so well in the translation from concept to actual practice, as well as featuring new applications and trends in the field.
Telemedicine holds enormous promise in the future of healthcare. Until we start cloning and mass-producing doctors and nurses, we will increasingly depend on porting services and information electronically to consumers, rather than depending on those consumers to travel, whether that’s across the street, the state or the globe. At the same time, the field has moved in fits and starts in the journey from grant-based, research and publicly-funded organizations to routine practice.
In my work in healthcare management and consulting, I’ve seen too many promising telemedicine projects under-perform or close. More often than not, the telemedicine technology works perfectly, but planning and implementation fails to take into account just how many other systems must work in sync to make a successful telemedicine project. We’ll be highlighting those critical systems, which range from big picture organizational vision and strategy to nitty-gritty details of practitioner training.
If you have heard the following statements uttered in your healthcare organization, you may be headed on a difficult implementation road ahead:
- “Ooh, ooh, we can get a grant for bandwidth and telemedicine equipment!”
- “We have a telemedicine champion, one of our doctors wants to do this!”
- “Wow, we can actually talk to a doctor over the television, we’re ready to go!”
- “We’ll get senior management on board later. In the meantime, just get IT talking to the doctor.”
- “Training? We just need to show the doctor and nurses how to turn on the equipment.”
If you find yourself or someone else in your organization sharing those thoughts, stay tuned to this series and we can guide you through the proper way to implement telemedicine in your healthcare organization, and avoid some of the common pitfalls.
Have a question about telemedicine that you would like Dr. Cuyler to answer in his series, “The Doctors is In”? Submit them in the comment box below.
Robert N. Cuyler, PhD is President of Clinical Psychology Consultants Ltd, LLP, a consulting firm focused on telemedicine strategy and implementation. He and Dutch Holland, PhD are co-authors of the book ‘Implementing Telemedicine: Completing Projects on Target On Time On Budget’. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. www.imtelemedicine.com