We’ve probably all heard the announcements by airline pilots warning that “we might encounter some turbulence” on the flight ahead. For the hospital industry—at least as far as the physician shortage is concerned—the announcements are long since over. We’re flying directly through the turbulence as we enter 2020, and it’s only going to get bumpier in the decade ahead.
After 10 years of providing telemedicine programs to hospitals, we’ve had time to carve out a specific niche in the market. We know what makes us different from other telemedicine companies, so we’ve taken time to put those differentiators down on paper in a new Telemedicine Playbook: “What to Look for When Choosing a Provider – Six Tips for Success.”
Telemedicine. The evolution continues. For hospital administrators today, the conversation has switched from “What is Telemedicine?” to “How do I get a Telemedicine program started?” In every situation where inpatient telemedicine is considered, return on investment (ROI) factors prominently in the decision. The four key factors hospitals should consider: Impact on transfers, improved clinical metrics, patient and family satisfaction, and physician retention.
Telemedicine’s value to hospitals is demonstrated every day. In Emergency Departments (EDs), where stroke patients get the timely treatment they need in their local community hospitals without having to be transferred to a distant referral hospital. On the floor, where rounding stays on a timely schedule. In the boardroom, where examples of patient and staff satisfaction, as well as bottom-line benefits, are frequently heard. The ICU is another area where telemedicine is significantly changing how healthcare is delivered―for the better.
This same time last year I wrote about the growing acceptance of telemedicine, but in looking back at 2017, I believe “acceptance” is no longer the right word. It’s more accurate to say that hospitals, providers and patients are embracing telemedicine with gusto. It’s a solution for many of today’s most pressing challenges.
When do you ever stop being a pioneer? As long as there are new frontiers to explore, you don’t. It’s the reason that nearly 10 years after we founded one of the first inpatient telemedicine companies, we’re still pioneering the industry: There are always new frontiers. Micro-hospitals, for example.
Sometimes the most challenging part of implementing a telemedicine program is making the decision to start one. You might be familiar with other hospitals that use telemedicine successfully, but is it right for you? And what about others on your team—are they skeptics, or advocates, or undecided? How do you critically analyze your choices, and then reach agreement among your hospital’s clinical, finance, and administration decision-makers that telemedicine is the right one?
We’ve discussed in previous blog posts how changes in the provider population are creating opportunities for telemedicine. Because today’s dwindling supply of physicians places a greater premium on work-life balance than their forebears did, telemedicine answers a hospital’s ongoing challenge to provide consistent nighttime coverage. The patient population is also changing. And that means new opportunities for telemedicine, too.
If asked to condense our experience at the American Telemedicine Association’s (ATA) International Conference in Orlando last month, and the National Rural Health Association’s (NRHA) Rural Hospital Innovation Summit which followed two weeks later in San Diego, this line would be it. It’s our prime takeaway from those important industry gatherings.