One of our roles here at ClickCare is educating healthcare providers. In particular, our passion is educating folks about the value and satisfaction of practicing medicine (nursing, physical therapy, etc) with the support of technology integrated into a centuries-old practice.
That does not seem such a leap for us, but it seems to be a challenge for many. Information Technology is just part of our lives. The older colleagues in our audience can “remember when” there was little or no technology. The younger ones know no different. Both groups drive safer technology-guided cars, nearly computers with a motor and wheels. Everyone glances up at a monitor while not touching the wrist for a pulse. But some seem to isolate their caregiving from technology. The prevailing attitude is that technology is something pushed down on them from above ("the EHR goes live in two weeks, be ready") rather than something that needs to incorporated from within.
A recent blog post brought these dynamics alive for me. The post, the Four Challenges of Launching a Telehealth Program, describes the launch of their telemedicine services a year ago.
They describe four challenges:
The first three are often discussed. We are pleased to see workflow added to the list. But, we have a different take on it. They note that decisions are made about basic operational matters such as registration and documentation. They developed “telehealth-specific care protocols”. Other broader issues are noted, “such as carving out specific time in existing schedules for clinicians to provide telehealth visits, or whether to expect them to be added on to the existing workload."
They give examples of their scheduling solution. We respect these efforts and their responses to other challenges as well as the good care provided by their system.
But, and it is a big but, we long ago learned that Time is as important an issue as Place in telemedicine programs. Telemedicine, telehealth, mHealth, and connected health have been all about shrinking geographic distance. Essentially, this focus is one of single dimension. The question has been: What is the shortest distance between two points? Answer: electronic communication.
The more important question is: how can I do this task with the least time away from my patient and as efficiently as possible for me? And perhaps: How can I involve any or all members of the patient's team? And how can we include the patient as part of the solution rather than making the patient only the problem to be solved?
Ultimately, we chose the Hybrid Store-and-Forward® model for iClickCare because it means that providers can consult with each other asynchronously (on their schedules). Consulting on a patient is as simple as answering or sending a text message -- except it's 100% HIPAA safe and allows for photos, videos, and words.
That means that telemedicine isn't causing yet more scheduling challenges, and yet more visits on the schedule. We feel that Hybrid Store-and-Forward reminds us to use technology as appropriate for healthcare workflow.
The difference, to circle back, is that process should support attitude. And the attitude should be: technology is part of our lives. Let’s make it serve us and, if possible, become invisible. If not invisible, then the least interruptive to the good patient care honed by the centuries of improvement.
If you want to learn more about hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine, you can get our guide here: