Solution Provider Explores Five Critical Considerations for an Effective Telehealth Design
NEW YORK, May 16, 2017 – Telehealth has long been a standalone endeavor for many healthcare organizations and something that has been kept completely separate from discussions about electronic health record (EHR) optimization. But according to Logicalis Healthcare Solutions, the healthcare-focused arm of Logicalis US, an international IT solutions and managed services provider (www.us.logicalis.com), there is a significant – and often overlooked – interrelationship between telehealth, imaging, and EHR optimization that healthcare IT pros need to address when striving to attain a more mature, clinically-integrated, program-based telehealth solution.
“At Logicalis, we talk to a lot of healthcare CIOs and IT professionals. And while the clear majority are thinking about and planning ways to optimize the significant investments their organizations have made in electronic health record systems, they know they’re missing some pieces of the puzzle,” says Ed Simcox, Healthcare Practice Leader, Logicalis Healthcare Solutions. “Telehealth is one of those missing links. What few people are talking about today is the correlation between telehealth, smart image retention practices, and the optimization strategies that can maximize their returns on EHR investments. Making telehealth a more integral part of their clinicians’ daily workflow, capturing and marrying telehealth images to each patient’s electronic health record, and making those images more easily referenceable in the EHR so they can be accessed as needed and shared across a patient’s entire care team will allow the organization to deliver a better and more affordable level of care.”
Five Critical Telehealth Considerations
For a mature telehealth solution to be truly transformational, it must be user friendly, automated and capable of leveraging integrated electronic patient information. Whether an organization is just ramping up with telehealth or is reviewing an existing program, it’s important to look for any missed opportunities to integrate telehealth into the overall healthcare experience. To help, the healthcare IT experts at Logicalis are offering a downloadable white paper, “How to Design and Implement a Successful Telehealth Program for Your Organization,” and have identified five commonly missed considerations for effective telehealth strategies.
1. Collaboration: Telehealth solutions are healthcare solutions enabled by technology, not a standalone solution. To eliminate the barrier between telehealth and healthcare, making the two become one practice, telehealth must be fully integrated with the healthcare organization’s EHR. That includes every aspect of the telehealth experience from scheduling to sharing clinical notes – and importantly – storing telehealth images and marrying them to the patient’s electronic record.
2. Image Integration: In any patient encounter, there is the possibility that a variety of clinicians may need to consult one another on the patient’s care. This underscores the importance of integrating multidisciplinary images – including the clinical opinions offered based on those images – for each member of the care team to access and review.
3. Finding Images: Unless telehealth-acquired images are properly catalogued and married to the patient’s electronic health record, they won’t be available when needed. No one will know they exist or where to find them, and they won’t be available for current opinions or longitudinal analyses. This means additional images and scans will need to be performed, exposing the patient to potentially unnecessary radiation, inconveniencing the patient and, of course, needlessly increasing costs.
4. Documentation: When telehealth images are not stored or married to the EHR, some disciplines may not be able to charge for their consults. As a result, today, across a wide spectrum of specialties, it is becoming commonplace for healthcare organizations to require the retention of images their physicians use to render any professional opinion – telehealth included. Additionally, if a lawsuit should occur, without properly stored images accompanying clinical notes, there will be no visual support for the clinician’s opinion.
5. Best Patient Outcomes: Having a patient’s complete medical history on hand is vital in delivering favorable patient outcomes; since those records must include both clinical notes and images obtained via telehealth to be truly complete, the entire healthcare community must ask itself: If we don’t have the right patient history – including all relevant data – can we make the right diagnoses?
A Clinical Example
Imagine an instance in which an ophthalmology practice is providing telehealth consultations to smaller community hospitals about diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic patients need to be assessed for retinopathy annually. Rather than visiting the ophthalmologist in person, the patient’s primary care physician acquires ophthalmic images using a device connected to his cell phone, then transfers the images to an ophthalmologist for assessment. The ophthalmologist then receives the images and renders his opinion.
Who stores the images? Both doctors? And how are they stored – on a thumb drive? A server? If they aren’t married to the patient’s EHR, the images won’t be available for year-to-year comparisons, something which provides caregivers with a much more robust picture of a patient’s health and any changes taking place over time.
Perhaps the diabetic patient’s endocrinologist would also like to see the images. To enable this kind of effective image sharing, each practice needs a logical way to retain and easily retrieve the images as well as each clinician’s notes and opinions to provide a better continuum of care. This is only one example of many illustrating the “missing link” between effective telehealth strategies and EHR optimization.
Logicalis is an international multi-skilled solution provider providing digital enablement services to help customers harness digital technology and innovative services to deliver powerful business outcomes.
Our customers cross industries and geographical regions; our focus is to engage in the dynamics of our customers’ vertical markets including financial services, TMT (telecommunications, media and technology), education, healthcare, retail, government, manufacturing and professional services, and to apply the skills of our 4,000 employees in modernizing key digital pillars, data center and cloud services, security and network infrastructure, workspace communications and collaboration, data and information strategies, and IT operation modernization.
We are the advocates for our customers for some of the world’s leading technology companies including Cisco, HPE, IBM, NetApp, Microsoft, VMware and ServiceNow.
The Logicalis Group has annualized revenues of over $1.5 billion from operations in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific and Africa. It is a division of Datatec Limited, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the AIM market of the LSE, with revenues of over $6.5 billion.
For more information, visit www.us.logicalis.com.