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Hospitals Centralizing Telemedicine, But EMR Integration Is Still Tough

Posted on March 26, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Over the past few years, large healthcare providers have begun to offer their patients telemedicine options. In the past, they offered these services on an ad-hoc basis, but that seems to be changing. A new survey suggests that hospitals and health systems have begun to manage this telemedicine service lines to a central office rather than letting individual departments decide how to deliver virtual care.

The survey, which was conducted by REACH Health, polled more than 400 healthcare executives, physicians and nurses as well as other healthcare professionals. REACH, which offers enterprise telemedicine systems, has been conducting research on the telemedicine business for several years.

Forty-eight percent of respondents to the REACH Health 2018 Telemedicine Industry Benchmark Survey reported that they coordinated telemedicine services on enterprise-level, up from 39% last year. Meanwhile, 26% said that individual departments handled their own telemedicine services, down from 36% in 2017.

The providers that are taking an enterprise approach seem to have a good reason for doing so. When it analyzed the survey data, REACH concluded that organizations offering telemedicine at the enterprise level were 30% more likely to be highly successful. (Not that the company would draw any other conclusion, of course, but it does seem logical that coordinating telehealth would be more efficient.)

The survey also found that telemedicine programs provided by both behavioral health organizations and clinics have expanded rapidly over the last few years. Back in 2015, REACH found that many behavioral health providers and clinics were at the planning stages or new to delivering telemedicine, but according to the 2018 results, many now have active telemedicine programs in place, with clinic services expanding 37% and behavioral health 40%.

While healthcare organizations may be managing telemedicine centrally, their EMRs don’t seem adequate to the job. First, most survey respondents noted that the telemedicine platform wasn’t integrated with the EMR. Meanwhile, nearly half said they were documenting patient visits in the EMR after remote consultations had ended. In addition, more than one-third of respondents said that EMR doesn’t allow them to analyze telemedicine-specific metrics adequately.

Whether REACH’s solution solves the problem or not, I’m pretty sure they’re right that integrating telemedicine services data with an EMR remains difficult.

In fact, it seems obvious to me that while hospitals are still tweaking their programs for maximum impact, and getting paid for such services is still an issue, telemedicine won’t become a completely mature service line until collecting related data and integrating it with off-line patient care information is easy and efficient.

 

NYC’s shame: Psychiatric nightmare continues

Posted on August 22, 2010 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

 

Alan Aviles: Don’t stay in his psych ward

 Since psychiatric patient Esmin Green died, ignored, on the floor of King’s County Hospital in 2008, I’ve repeatedly argued that far too few heads have rolled.  If it were in my power, I’d particularly like to show the door to Alan Aviles, head of the city’s Health & Hospitals Corp.  But some may have thought I was too quick to condemn Mr. Aviles, who, admittedly, has one hell of a job on his hands.  

Now, tell me again that the psychiatric mismanagement and patient violence at King’s County are nobody’s fault.  

It’s 2010, and the leadership at King’s County has allegedly been shaken, stirred and rocked. But once again, staff have again been found to have hidden very seveve deficiencies in their behavioral health unit. Need an example? Here’s an ugly one. One particularly unlucky patient was left alone long enough, often enough, to attempt suicide, get sexually assualted and attempt suicide again.  

In theory, these things shouldn’t be able to happen any more. When HHC settled a suit brought the the U.S. Department of Justice, it agreed to be supervised by a judge for five years. Perhaps the judge and Aviles are old golfing buddies?  Seriously, folks, this just isn’t funny.  

Anyway, don’t take my word for it:  read this well-researched piece  from the New York Daily News and tell me why there’s a single senior manager still in place at HHC, much less King’s County.  While it was published in April,  somehow I doubt things have changed much. I’d be embarassed to work there.