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.”
It outlines why our hospital partners come to us and stay with us. It’s also a guide for why you—if you’re looking to start or change a telemedicine program at your hospital—should come to us, too.
You can download the complete Playbook by clicking here, so I won’t be redundant by recapping all of its points. But in this blog, I will address what I think are the most important messages.
Hospitals want more personalized telemedicine programs
We hear it more and more frequently these days, from hospital physicians, executives and nurses, that their current telemedicine program is cold, impersonal, and lacks consistency.
They typically work with a telemedicine company that might have dozens of physicians on call across the country to serve the range of hospitals that are their customers. The physicians are probably well qualified. That’s not the problem. The problem is that patients in those hospitals might not ever see the same telemedicine physician twice during their stay. How does that work?
Often, not very well. We hear especially from nurses in hospitals that they are tired of working with telemedicine firms that furnish “a different doctor a day” or “a different doctor for every call.” And believe me, we know how important it is to listen to nurses—they are an invaluable cog in the wheel of any hospital inpatient program. We also know how important it is to take a more personal approach.
Small teams of virtual physicians
When we sign on a new hospital for our services—whether the program is general inpatient care such as Telehospitalists or more focused services with TeleICU, TeleCardiology, TeleStroke or other specialties—we assign a small team or “pod” of virtual physicians exclusively credentialed for a particular site. Typically, about six to eight doctors work on a rotating basis to fill a hospital’s schedule in any given month. Over time, they all become an integral part of a hospital’s clinical team, deeply familiar with a hospital’s specific services, its procedures and its people.
Smaller telemedicine teams like ours develop closer relationships with a hospital’s patients and staff. It means improved continuity of care, which produces better outcomes with patients. No matter how thorough, a doctor’s notes can only convey so much to the next doctor in charge. It’s much better to have doctors visiting patients whom they have seen before (whether virtual or on the ground), who understand their plans of care, know their conditions, the names of their family members, and know how to respond to the concerns they express.
Continuity is key
An article published by The Commonwealth Fund makes the point clearly: “Consistency of care means low variability in care from shift to shift, day to day, nurse to nurse, resident to resident, attending to attending, and patient to patient. High variability among practitioners is a major problem throughout the health care system.”
We highlight other keys to successful hospital telemedicine programs in our Playbook—such as how we, unlike other telemedicine companies, staff with physicians who have had previous on-site, on-the-ground hospitalist experience and understand how hospitals operate, and how we are flexible enough to work on any technology platform and integrate seamlessly with the wide variety of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems that are at work in hospitals today.
Nevertheless, as I see it, our consistent approach sets a gold standard that any telemedicine program would do well to follow. It’s not the only ingredient required for quality telemedicine care, but it is the cornerstone.
I hope you enjoy reading the Playbook, and I look forward to your questions and comments.