ClickCare Café

New FDA Regulation Law Brings Changes for Telehealth

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Thu, Aug 24, 2017 @ 06:01 AM

glen-alejandro-347236.jpgOn Friday, President Trump signed a bill reauthorizing the Food and Drug Administration’s user fee agreements for drugs and devices. 

The bill authorizes user fee agreements before they were set to expire in October. Interestingly, the bill also establishes several new approaches to the regulation of digital health and creates a digital health unit within the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH).

Advocates of digital health, telehealth, and telemedicine might worry about whether this change is positive or negative for medicine and for progress in digital health. Here’s our take…

The Food and Drug Administration was created to regulate, make safe, and (perhaps), facilitate the development of food and drug products in the United States.

Of course, in 2017, digital technology is every bit as important as biochemistry in contributing to our health and wellness. So the Food and Drug Administration is working to keep up with the new forms that “food and drugs” take — and how data and technology can contribute to or potentially endanger the nation’s health.

As digital science becomes increasingly important, it will need to be regulated. But, at this point “watchful waiting” is more important than regulation to allow the development of creative technologies. These changes probably mean little to you using iClickCare but we wanted to keep you abreast of the changing regulations in the field.  On the other hand, here will more control of the hardware and medical device side of telemedicine.

ClickCare is proud to be a leader during an exciting and innovative time. And ultimately, we are advocates for technology that is safe because it is in service to providers caring for their patients — like telemedicine for medical collaboration — not a circumvention of the way providers care for patients.

Tools, technology, and drugs are only as safe as the professionals using them. So we see our job as simple: use technology but get out of the way so that you and your colleagues can care for your patients.

Learn more about the most innovative form of medical collaboration (that is also the simplest) here:

ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Glen Alejandro on Unsplash

Tags: telehealth, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, regulatory issues

Don't Choose the Worse Treatment Just Because It's Complicated

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 @ 06:18 AM

complexity.jpgLast year, I was sitting at a conference room table with high-level administrators at a major hospital. They were looking for ways to use telemedicine to improve care coordination, decrease readmissions, and bring down length of stay. They were thrilled about iClickCare because, as they said, "This is something our providers would actually enjoy using."

Their main concern before moving forward with iClickCare? "It's too inexpensive."

At first we were concerned -- did they mean the solution wasn't complete enough? "No," they confirmed, "It's actually much more complete and adaptable than other solutions. It's just that our board is expecting a much more expensive purchase, with a large hardware outlay."

As counterintuitive as that experience was, the sentiment is not uncommon. So many times, we think that expensive hardware is the "right" way to approach a problem.

Similarly, recent studies are showing that time, physical activity, and over-the-counter ibuprofen is the best possible treatment for back pain. Not surgery, not an MRI, not opioids. And as healthcare providers, we know that prescribing "go for a run, take some Advil, and don't call me for a few months" may well be a harder pill for a patient to swallow than, well, a bottle of pills. 

Telemedicine does not depend on expensive hardware and high-end cameras, just as most treatment for back pain doesn't depend on surgery or medication. The unglamorous truth is that telemedicine success comes from people working together effectively -- and the medical collaboration tool has to be simple and effective enough to allow that to happen. 

Just as a great healthcare provider uses the least invasive treatment that will be effective, we believe the simplest telemedicine solution is usually the best one. And we know that for a lot of healthcare providers, that's a pretty big relief.

If you're ready for a simpler solution for telemedicine and healthcare collaboration, try iClickCare for free:

Signup for an iClickCare Account

Tags: hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, medical collaboration software, telemedicine solutions, healthcare collaboration

A 5-Minute Telemedicine Fix For a Big Problem in Medical Education

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Mon, Jan 09, 2017 @ 06:33 AM

'greatcase.jpgA couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with a remarkable man -- a former attending, a mentor, a friend. As healthcare providers sometimes do, we started talking about interesting cases. 

We had a patient who was a vibrant 15 year old girl, on the swim team, and suddenly couldn't walk, I told my friend. We feared the worst, as did her parents -- advanced spinal or brain tumor was a very real possibility. Every day, even every hour, is important. In addition to not wanting to delay any necessary treatment, we also didn't want a busy high schooler out of class for weeks on end. That said, four specialist opinions were needed, from different health centers, and all with visit waiting lists of months. We were lucky enough to have iClickCare available to us, and in seconds we had securely shared a video of the girl's issues and a brief request for consult with all of the specialists. Within hours, three physicians weighed in on their opinions and appropriateness of referral. Semi-emergent surgery was scheduled and a good outcome obtained. The entire workflow was accomplished without interruption (the specialists could respond as easily as posting to Facebook, and on their schedule) and without scheduling a video clinic visit. The system saved thousands of dollars. Everyone won -- the patient, the doctors, the system, the secretaries.

Our friend listened carefully, and as I finished describing the outcome, his eyes lit up and he exclaimed, “Great Case!”

There is a lot of satisfaction in hearing that. It means that you, the provider, did something a little unusual, made a good diagnosis, participated in an ideal outcome, shared worry and success with colleagues and peers, and even managed to appease the looming demands of cost containment.

Of course, as a busy provider, I didn't have time to do anything special with the case once it was resolved. But without needing to do anything special, the case was stored, the pictures, video, and data were all stored, and I've used it as a teaching case countless times in the years since. I'm able to reference it -- and the hundreds of other cases that have been stored in the course of regular care -- and students can learn from them. The student can learn about the pathophysiology, but maybe even more importantly he can learn by reviewing the discussion. It is there that judgement, approach, analysis can be saved and later revealed.

This type of real-world learning is more important now than ever because modern medical education has changed. The 80-hour work week provides rest (although this is not being shown as beneficial for patient safety as was once thought). Testing is more prevalent, participation is less. Current education does not allow for the absorption of the subtle discussion that constitutes continuity of care. It does not show or teach the interactions and give-and-take that are so important in healthcare collaboration and care management.

Indeed, it seems as if we have been thrust back to 1910 when Abraham Flexor reviewed the abysmal state of medical education and suggested a framework for improvement.

The combination of attitude, work hours, financial constraints and EHR/EMR conspire to give the student the same deficiencies as Flexor saw in 1910. Instruction is didactic and wholly textbook, memorization without innovation. Students don't touch the patient often. Much of clinic time is tied up in EMRs. At a few minutes per patient, there is little time to allow the student to think, to fail in the thinking, to be corrected and to think again. Working by shift amplifies these deficiencies. Research funds are shrinking. Continuity of care and care collaboration are not part of this process.

All of that said, we don't believe that fixing these issues need to be a matter of waiting for the whole system to change, or even overhauling all of medical education. In fact, we've found that using hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine, like iClickCare, can create opportunities for individual healthcare providers to change medical education, 5 minutes at a time. Since Hybrid Store-and-Forward® technology, all collaborations/consultations are stored, we can see how things unfold, and any case can become a "Great Case."

So, our proposal (and yes we recognize the magnitude of this -- it took decades for Flexor to see change) is that each medical student starts the first day with a way to record and participate in “Great Cases”. A note enriched with video, pictures and PDFs of data is made as a dissection progresses, an X-Ray is read, a lab finding is discussed. By collecting the information and by participating in the process, under supervision, lifelong learning and a love of same can be developed.

And that means that the satisfaction of sharing and learning, and the reward of providing truly good care all add up to more and more Great Cases.

You can try iClickCare for medical education for 2 weeks, absolutely free. Just click here for your trial:

Signup for an iClickCare Account

 

Photo from wocintechchat on Flickr, used under Creative Commons rights.

Tags: hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, medical education

A New Study Asks: Are Telemedicine's Barriers Too Big to Overcome?

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Aug 09, 2016 @ 10:26 AM

telephone.jpg“The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” – Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878

“This telephone has too many shortcomings to be considered as a means of communication. The device is of inherently no value to us.” – Western Union internal memo, 1876

A recent article called The State of Teleheath, written by respected colleagues in the New England Journal of Medicine, looks at the challenges telemedicine and telehealth face as technology. 

They list three trends in medicine, and describe them as linked:
  1. A shift in focus from increasing access to healthcare to a focus on convenience and cost.
  2. A change from caring for acute conditions to caring for episodic and chronic conditions.
  3. Migration from hospitals and satellite clinics to home and mobile devices.

They also identify four potential barriers to telemedicine and telehealth, and provide legitimate solutions:
  • Reimbursement: limited coverage, fear of abuse or overuse.
  • Clinical concerns: lower quality patient-physician relationships, physical examination vs in person visits.
  • Fragmentation of care: potential for narcotic prescribing abuse, legal issues.
  • Credentialing: licensure, and social / geographic limitations which limit access.

The review is well written and comprehensive, by established and respected authors and leaders in the field. And we also share their concern about many of the challenges that telemedicine faces.

But when we step back and consider all of the indicators that telemedicine is actually gaining huge momentum and overcoming many of the barriers that used to exist, we tend to come to a different conclusion about the "state of telehealth." We step back and look at how technologies become tools, particularly three examples that healthcare providers use every day:

  • The telephone
  • The fax
  • The stethoscope.

Telephones, of course, are now so common that we don't think of them as technology -- we think of them as a tool, or just a daily part of our lives. The fax took 50 years to be adopted and (although it can easily replaced by Hybrid Store-and-Forward Telemedicine®), it persists to this day. The stethoscope was invented by Laënnec in 1816 but did not reach its non digital state of the art until after 1956.

Telemedicine and telehealth are still thought of, by mainstream medicine, as technology. The opportunity is to move on to incorporating “telemedicine” not as something different, but as just part of the fabric of seamless care. This will be done by simply changing our mindset. Just as we have done with the telephone, fax, and stethoscope. Each of these is just an everyday tool, and two -- the stethoscope and the telephone -- are symbols of medicine. Imagine the image of a doctor with a stethoscope around the neck and a telephone against the ear. You probably see a worried look on that doctor's face, but undoubtedly you are not seeing a technology barrier.

Our conclusion? The state of telehealth is strong -- not as a technology, but on its way to becoming just another tool, that is woven into our daily lives.

Our mantra from the very beginning over 20 years ago is Access, Collaboration and Education. Drs. Dorsey and Topol have done a good job of discussing access. And we want to champion a broader view -- one that also includes collaboration and education.

Current attitudes about telemedicine and telehealth are problematic. The prevailing view is that data is all, singularly, important. We encourage you to think beyond this. We encourage you to expand your thoughts beyond the excellent review of Drs. Dorsey and Topol. View data as valuable to the patient only when it is personalized for that patient. Use data as a language, but use the language to communicate and collaborate.

We are committed to going farther. We are committed to using human insight, compassion and judgment to master data and create solutions. It is time to do in health care that which we do in life -- use the technology that is available to improve the lives of our patients and ourselves. 

Try the iClickCare 14-day evaluation

Tags: telemedicine, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, regulatory issues

Your Moments Alone May Be More Important Than Any You Spend in Healthcare Collaboration

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Jul 05, 2016 @ 07:30 AM

timealone.jpeg


As the holiday weekend wraps up, we jump back into work, and back into the never-ending barrage of records, labs, and patients. Jumping into caring for patients is often satisfying for healthcare providers who love their job.

But there is always a flip side to the busy, demanding work of 12-minutes-per-patient. And the flip side is that there is no time to think.

When I read the New York Times article that came out about Obama's quiet evening hours, I nodded a bit in recognition.

After President Obama has dinner with his wife and daughters, he goes to the Treaty Room and shuts the door. There, he goes over speeches and briefings. He edits documents. He hashes out ideas with colleagues. He circles back to things he didn't have time for during the day and moves forward with key decisions.

“Everybody carves out their time to get their thoughts together. There is no doubt that window is his window,” the article quotes Rahm Emanuel as saying (Mr. Obama’s first chief of staff.) “You can’t block out a half-hour and try to do it during the day. It’s too much incoming. That’s the place where it can all be put aside and you can focus.”

Sometimes we're asked why we don't focu

 

s more on videoconferencing with iClickCare. (While it's a feature of our healthcare collaboration tool, it's not the primary focus.) The reason is that we value healthcare providers' time more than any other single resource. And the last thing that healthcare providers need is more incoming. Healthcare providers don't need more interruptions, more tasks, or more interactions that don't let them process and envision really innovative ways of caring for patients.

It's precisely this kind of time that we try to protect using hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine. It's a fancy term for a simple concept: that you should be able to collaborate on your terms, at a time that works for you.

We believe that those moments of reflection are the source of good patient care -- not in conflict with it. And as we return from our Independence Day break, we encourage you to embrace that time to "get your thoughts together", whether it's 60 seconds or 6 hours.

We put together a quick guide on what makes Hybrid Store-and-Forward Telemedicine different from other healthcare collaboration tools. Get it here: 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

 

Tags: medical collaboration, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, care coordination, healthcare collaboration

Are You Too Introverted for Healthcare Collaboration? Us Too.

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Jun 14, 2016 @ 07:30 AM

openoffice.jpeg


Most healthcare providers don't have a lot of mental or physical space during their work day. Whether it's to make a phone call, have a bite of lunch, or a private conversation with a colleague.

I always used to find respite in the surgeon's lounge, both the respite of a quiet moment, and the respite of an inspiring or helpful conversation with a colleague.

Today's medical context is simultaneously more isolating and more exposed that it ever was before.

We're almost never left to quiet and solitude to reflect on a patient -- but we're also very much disconnected from our colleagues when it comes to collaborating on a case.

So I was curious to hear a radio story that looked to the origins of the "open offices" so popular now in corporate America. It's now quite mainstream to have an open, playful, flexible office, but when the advertising agency Chiat-Day created one, it was incredibly unique.

As Planet Money describes the office: "There was also a ping-pong table, a giant staircase to nowhere and the piece de resistance, the floor - poured plastic resin… The desks in this office were all on wheels, and the chairs were plastic with coiled springs for legs." It was gorgeous, it was bold, it was brash -- and everyone had to be moving and talking to each other all of the time. There was no room for anyone to have a private conversation, to store their things, or take some isolated time to think.

In fact, the architect that created it, Gaetano Pesce, still believes the design he came up with (pictures here) is transformative and is a boon for creativity.

Was the design a success or a failure? Well, it certainly depends who you ask. But many people who worked at Chiat-Day when they had the open office say that it was very cool but that it simply didn't work for everyone. For the more reflective, or the more introverted, or for those who simply needed to work in a different way, the office dictated a certain way of working -- rather than supported the unique way that each person wanted to work.

So on the one hand, I find the study fascinating because I think that in medicine, there is a very specific need to find a balance between connection and solitude. So much of what we talk about with iClickCare is that it connects you. We use telemedicine to facilitate healthcare collaboration -- connection among you and other providers. 

But iClickCare also has another important role -- it protects you. Rather than the video-conferencing scheduling nightmare, or the million-and-one consult phone calls, or the barrage of emails that most of us face, iClickCare is specifically designed to work on your schedule, in your way. Hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine is asynchronous -- which means that you don't need to be answering consults, or requesting consults on any particular schedule -- you can do it in the way and at the time that works for you. 

So we are always on the lookout for tools, spaces, designs, and cultures that are designed with people in mind -- all people. 

Collaboration is good, but has to be on individuals' terms.

 

This is our guide to all the details, pros, and cons of hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine. You can download it here, for free:

 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

 

 

Tags: telemedicine, medical collaboration, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, healthcare collaboration, store and forward medical collaboration

Huge Legislative Changes for Store-and-Forward Telemedicine

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Jun 07, 2016 @ 07:00 AM

store-and-forward-legislative-changes.jpeg

 

The American Telemedicine Association reports an amazing change in regulations: 49 of 50 states now have Medicaid programs that cover telemedicine for low income beneficiaries. (The single outlier? Hint: the smallest state in the nation.)

This report also notes that Missouri is a new member of an exclusive but growing group of states on the cusp of expanding coverage to store and forward Technologies. Store and Forward means non-videoconferencing, but instead communication with pictures and words in an email-timeframe. At this time, Missouri joins New York by specifically including -- and covering -- providers of all types and across the continuum of care.  

These legislative trends are at the convergence of several trends that are obliterating the barriers to telemedicine. Modern technology that assists in the everyday care of patients -- telemedicine and telehealth -- is no longer an experimental, conceptual idea. It is no longer about pilots, trials, and demonstration projects. In fact, telemedicine isn't even that cool or new anymore -- it is a mainstream, valuable, everyday tool.

With this change in telemedicine's place in society comes a change in providers, and a change in supporters. No longer is the only telemedicine model that of a central expert "helping" dispersed or lesser-resourced/educated/connected outposts. Now, and especially with store and forward telemedicine, these tools can help all providers support, challenge, educate, and collaborate with each other. And it's a good thing, too. Sometimes the most influential provider in the room is the one with the least number of degrees, but the closest contact with the patient. Sometimes, it is the patients themselves.

Missouri and New York, while pioneers, are enabling what we at ClickCare have been espousing and creating since our early grant days in the 1990s. They are enabling patients' access to care. They are ensuring that everyone, including the patient, should be involved in care at the right time and the right place. And most importantly, they are allowing collaboration to happen -- which means better care for each patient. 

So we call for more pioneers to join Missouri and New York in cultivating and enabling access, collaboration, and (don’t forget) education.

 

Still learning the basics of Hybrid Store-and-Forward® telemedicine? This guide can help:


ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

Tags: telemedicine, telehealth, store and forward, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, healthcare collaboration, store and forward medical collaboration, regulatory issues

Doctors Get Worse at Diagnosis Over Time - But You Don't Have To

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, Jun 01, 2016 @ 07:30 AM

healthcarecollaboration-improveresults


The great podcast Freakonomics has been doing some powerful episodes recently, as part of their "self improvement month."

One episode seemed particularly relevant to the ways that the ClickCare community does healthcare collaboration and why it makes such a dramatic difference in healthcare as a whole.

First, let me back up.

K. Anders Ericsson is a professor of psychology at Florida State University. He has studies how people become world-class at anything from surgery to music to sports.

And it turns out that, for the most part, human beings are getting better and better at learning how to learn. For instance, in order to qualify to run the Boston Marathon today, a male in the 18- to 34-year-old group has to have a time of 3 hours and 5 minutes. That time is only 6 minutes slower than the WINNER of the marathon in the 1896 olympics.

Ericsson says that "we’ve gotten so much better primarily because we’ve learned how to learn." And he links this ability to learn things to something he calls "deliberate practice." Not just logging hours, but practice involving "well-defined, specific goals, and [it] often involves improving some aspect of the target performance. It is not aimed at some vague, overall improvement.”

Interestingly, Ericsson cites studies that show that for doctors, their ability to diagnose heart sounds actually decreases the longer they are in practice. He says that this is because most physicians are in a fairly isolated environment, and that because they don't have coaching, input, challenge, support, or feedback during the diagnosis process -- they don't get better. In other words, doctors practice, but it's not deliberate practice, so they don't improve.

“Once a person reaches that level of “acceptable performance and automaticity,” Ericcson writes, "the additional years of 'practice' don’t lead to improvement.”

This data resonates with us because we see such significant gains in patient results, decrease in readmissions, decrease in length of stay, and even a drop in provider burnout when healthcare providers use a telemedicine tool for healthcare collaboration.

A few reasons why telemedicine-based healthcare collaboration can have such dramatic results:

  • Providers get immediate feedback, to support improvement. 
    When I get the relief of asking another provider for her consult on a case, I'm not just helping make my day easier and improving care for that patient -- I'm also getting what amounts to targeted coaching and feedback on my diagnosis and care overall -- a key component of "deliberate practic." 
  • Cases are saved for teaching. 
    One key difference between videoconferencing and hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine is that with something like iClickCare, all cases are saved and searchable so that you can use them to learn from and teach with in the future. That means immediate gains for you and your patients, plus effortless long-term building for the future.
  • This kind of collaboration adapts to providers' real lives and real tools. 
    We always tell people that they can do healthcare collaboration however they want, but never to invest in huge hardware infrastructure that is going to go obsolete fast, as well as be a huge learning curve and workflow conundrum for the people using it. For practice to be significant in terms of improving results, it needs to integrate flawlessly into providers' lives and use tools they already have.
  • Healthcare collaboration and care coordination go hand in hand. 
    Healthcare collaboration is usually seen as the one-off "conversation" about the patient. But when you can have mutliple providers -- across the continuum of care -- collaborating on cases, that means it's not just collaboration that's happening -- it's meaningful care coordination. 

 

The one thing that differentiates people who use iClickCare from those who don't isn't tech savvy or background. It is simply the sincere desire to have more fun while they do medicine, and to care for each patient as well as they possibly can.

When deliberate practice is part of the equation, using simple tools, it's not hard to see why they succeed so well at those goals.

 

Learn more about what makes hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine different here: 

 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

Tags: medical collaboration, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, provider burnout, healthcare collaboration, decrease readmissions, decrease length of stay

Dental ER Visits Are Rising But Care Coordination is a Fix

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Mon, Apr 11, 2016 @ 07:30 AM

firetruckemergency.jpg

 

As a company, and as doctors, we've always had a close relationship with dentists and dentistry.

My Dad was a dentist (and was even President of the American Dental Association in 1979); my brother is a dentist. One of our most important investors and advisors is a dentist (and colleague.) Also, as a reconstructive surgeon (doing a lot of work with cleft palates), dentists have always been valued and respected colleagues in the creative work of caring for these complex patients.

Dentists face unique challenges and opportunities in the world of medicine, though. When we talk about the isolation and siloing of medical providers, dentists often face the worst of it. So many of the ClickCare customers we've had who are dentists have said that the biggest benefit is care coordination.

We see one manifestation of this challenge that dentists face with care coordination in the data showing a steady rise in ER vists (many unnecessary) for dental issues.

This well documented report highlights the need of access of care. Dentistry is not alone, but the report clarifies nicely that access to care is a fundamental reason that the expensive, time wasting, inappropriate use of the emergency department is a problem. Not coincidently over 40% of this use of the emergency room is for the patient who is labeled “self pay”.

This report is worrisome for us at the patient level, the populational level, and as evidence that there is more work to be done when it comes to making the coordination of care possible and effective. Underlying the technology -- and more importantly the mission -- of ClickCare is our drive to facilitate access to care for the patient, collaboration for the providers, and education of colleagues, medical students (of all kinds), patients, and families.

Given that these ER visits will not stop immediately, and given that there are other places that could be called “originating sites”, would it not make sense to use Hybrid Store-and-Forward telemedicine to help the patient get the right care at the right time without burning out the providers and the system? Access doesn't have to mean in-person visits with every provider -- and telemedicine (especially a platform that works on your existing hardware or smartphones) can be an economical way to improve access and prevent last-ditch emergency visits.

If nothing else, medical collaboration helps with provider burnout. Decreasing telephone calls about unknown patients with unclear descriptions is important. (Home many of you know where the distal part of a tooth is?)

Finally, education about disease alone, is important, but also, educating each other about our roles, expertise and importance is, in the end, maybe more important.

The ultimate goal of care coordination is prevention -- prevention of disease, provention of unnecessary costs, prevention of conditions that could have been treated more simply in the office rather than later, in the ER. 


Are you a dentist interested in using telemedicine in your practice? You can try iClickCare for free by clicking here.

 

Tags: telemedicine, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, provider burnout, care coordination, medical provider burnout, emergency medicine

What a Patient's Family Photos Have to do With Telemedicine

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Fri, Dec 18, 2015 @ 08:30 AM

familyphoto

 

Not so long ago, people with facial deformities were not treated as people. As babies, they were sometimes left to die. As adults, they were assumed to be inept, unintelligent, and even unfeeling.

Of course, we now understand that a facial deformity is a condition that a person has -- not a condition that defines a person.

But sometimes in the crush of technology that medicine strains under, I worry that we've somehow gone backwards. These days, we're often reduced to seeing patients in 6-minute windows, entering data in EMRs by ourselves in a windowless room, rarely finding time to chat with other doctors, and receiving weekly productivity reports. So often, these days, we're just processing conditions, not helping people with conditions.

To be quite honest, iClickCare is sometimes criticized as not being an efficient enough tool at processing conditions. Despite its ability to save institutions significant amounts of money and improve results, folks are often critical of how it fits into the assembly line that medicine can become.

My answer? It doesn't really fit into the assembly line. Telemedicine generally, healthcare collaboration generally, and iClickCare in particular, fit into an efficient, thoughtful, caring, low-cost model of telemedicine that is decidedly not an assembly line. It's a conversation. It's an exploration. It's caring for people with medical conditions, not processing conditions evermore impersonally. Besides, the assembly line is not showing itself to be efficient or effective.

That's why Dr. Mikkael Sekeres's article about how his patients' family photos impact him, really impacted me. Dr. Sekeres shared that in taking a moment to look at the family photos on the wall of a patient's hospital room, he says, "I get to appreciate my patients from the time before they were sick and I can also see what they are trying to return to."

This is not a bleeding heart sentiment. If you don't know who your patients are and what they are trying to return to, you cannot treat them effectively. You can treat them -- well, and efficiently. But you can't treat them with the knowledge of how an extra day in the hospital affects their job. You can't delay surgery by a day so the high school swimmer can still swim in the state competition. You can't involve a young child's teacher in the telemedicine conversation about her speech development.

Your tools must support you in treating people -- not processing conditions:

  • People are more than their treatment.
    Healthcare collaboration is crucial and it must be rich conversations among healthcare providers, involving pictures, words, and videos -- not a text form with a single question and answer.
  • People have homes and jobs and families that are key to their health.
    That's why healthcare providers need to coordinate and collaborate with each other, across distance and on their schedule, so that patients don't have to trek from appointment to appointment with little benefit.
  • People have multiple facets of care and many caregivers and healthcare providers.
    For good care to happen, it's not about the opinion of an expert. It is about people across the continuum of care collaborating on a single case.
  • People have pasts and futures.
    That's why healthcare providers need to be able to refer back to past cases with ease -- using them to inform what the patient is facing now.

Especially this time of year, we are so grateful for our loved ones and are conscious of the health we have -- never to be taken for granted. We're also grateful for the many healthcare providers we know are equally conscious of the "non-medical" aspects of care that we hope to receive if and when we need care ourselves.

 

We put together a free ebook on hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine. You can download it here:

ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

Tags: telemedicine, medical collaboration, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, healthcare collaboration, healthcare collaboration software

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