Is This What You Call a Telehealth Cart?

As the world of telehealth explodes, we’ve seeing all sorts of approaches to solving the teleheath problem.  For those waiting for my list of telehealth vendors, I’ve finished evaluating 235 companies and classifying them.  I’ll be publishing the first piece of the list next week.  In the process of creating the list of telehealth vendors it’s been interesting to see the various approaches.  Especially those that are relatively new to the telehealth game and those that have been around for a while.

One area of telehealth that’s really interesting to me is the telehealth cart.  We’ve all seen them at conferences and in many cases they’re often the good old COWs (or WOWs as some preferred to call them) or Carts on Wheels that just had a camera added to them to do telehealth.

While the world telehealth can mean a lot of things, I see most of these carts as overkill.  Maybe you need a big screen for a very specific procedure that’s being done remotely or for a panel of doctors that are connecting, but generally those don’t need to be mobile and a fixed screen in a conference room is sufficient.  Today I came across a telehealth consultant that seemed to agree.

Her name is Samantha Lippolis (Learn more about her here) and here’s the picture and comments she shared:

What is wrong with this picture? This is a so called telehealth cart… I can’t imagine what the vendor charged but it wasn’t cheap ?

1️⃣ How will this fit in a clinic room?
2️⃣ Will you get a back injury pushing it around?
3️⃣ The camera does not move. See pic #2 How do you do an exam?
4️⃣ What if a patient needs to stand – will the exam only be of their mid section?
5️⃣ Where’s the controls to start & end the call because this is NOT a touch screen?

I could go on and on! A vendor calling this a telehealth cart is laughable. An administrator or IT buying it – is double the fun.

I was called to look at the new telemedicine carts. Umm WTF are these because there were 3 ??‍♀️ I replaced these useless items with iPads on a simple stand and an app based video system for $450.

These are now conference room video units because they are not telehealth carts.

It’s important to know what you don’t know and hire people that do know.

Samantha also shared this picture.  You can see how those movable items could quickly disappear.

I imagine there’s going to be some places where a telehealth cart is going to be useful, practical, and worth the investment.  However, these behemoths aren’t what is going to be needed for most telehealth.  That’s like taking a sledgehammer to a 1 penny nail.  It doesn’t end well.  I will say that the telehealth devices do need to be robust and a basic iPad solution might not be the best option either.  Depends on how it’s going to be used.

In the comments of her post, Christian Milaster pointed out that there’s no need for the patient or physician’s head to be on a 50″ screen.  It’s much better for the face to be more life sized on a 24″ or 27″ monitor.  This is a great point and a great reason why a screen this large is not just a waste of money, but creates a bad experience for one to one telehealth.

Samantha also pointed out how a telehealth cart like this can damage people’s perception of telehealth being “awkward” and that telehealth “sucks.”  As we learned from the world of EHR.  We often saw (and in many cases still see) where someone hated the EHR because it was implemented poorly, not because the EHR itself sucked.  This highlights really well how we’re going to see the same with telehealth implementations.

What’s been your experience with telehealth carts?  Are there times where a cart makes sense?  Are there features of a telehealth cart that make it worth the investment?  Let us know in the comments and on social media with @hcittoday.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

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