Telepresence Solutions for the Health Care Industry

The health care industry is increasing its use of video conferencing for telehealth initiatives; the following are just some of the ways the technology is helping to transform the industry.

Electronic medical records (EMR) training: As more health care organizations adopt electronic medical record keeping, the need to train users has grown. Video is an effective alternative for training multiple users because it is highly scalable, efficient, and cost effective. For example, traditional training requires a considerable investment in time, money and resources. Trainees must all be physically present at once, and all schedules must coordinate. If a training session is missed it can be difficult to make up. Video allows organizations to train users at many sites at once, quite effectively. In addition, video training sessions can be recorded and archived for reference.
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EMR training is one example of a powerful use of the technology to create a more efficient process. For example, Navy Captain Michael Weiner, deputy program manager and chief medical officer of the defense health information management system, underscored the importance of training when implementing any new processes or procedures, including EMR deployment. “All the right software and hardware will do nothing if you don’t have the ability to train your team properly,” he said.

Collaborative care consultation: Video can be an effective way for health care organizations to provide care to patients; it enables efficient face-to-face collaboration among remote patients and specialists. Hospitals and clinics are embracing video for collaborative care for both the benefits to the patient and the bottom line. For example, the University of Washington saved $3,300 when using a collaborative care model to treat patients with depression, and the patients benefited from the additional sessions they received over video.

The collaborative care model provides the ability to scale scarce specialist resources across the organization, expanding market opportunities into previously underserved areas. For example, when specialty care is restricted to geographic regions, many located in rural areas cannot gain access to medical attention. Video solves this problem by providing remote consultations with specialists, giving patients the care they need and preventing the patient from turning to another health care source.

Another opportunity for collaborative care includes medical research. Video allows researchers working in multiple organizations to collaborate efficiently, saving time and money on the expenses of meeting at one physical location. Additionally, video facilitates the recruiting process, since candidates can be brought into different locations to be interviewed instead of incurring the time and costs associated with initially meeting each one in person.

Telemedicine carts are a useful way to utilize video conferencing in a health care setting. Mobile video conferencing units can be brought into an examination room and then used to conduct a complete physical – albeit remotely. The process usually involves a nurse or other qualified practitioner performing an exam while a specialist at a remote location views data that is sent over the Internet.

Alternative care settings: These health care environments extend the reach of clinical expertise, utilizing video to provide health care access to those in need. For example, video conferencing cart systems can assist an emergency response team that is providing assistance during an earthquake or other natural disaster. In this case video expands access to care and provides a valuable service for those in need who cannot immediately make it to a hospital for evaluation.

In addition to remote locations or disaster areas that need access to doctors, the complexity of providing adequate healthcare to all has becomes difficult given the limited resources of health care systems. According to a 2008 report by Datamonitor, telehealth solutions will be a step towards increasing access to care for a larger portion of the population.

Continuing medical education (CME): Video increases the effectiveness of CME training, and facilitates its administration. According to Johns Hopkins University, live interactive multimedia training is the most effective form of CME delivery. For example, getting busy physicians and other health care practitioners from different disciplines and locations together at the same time for training can be problematic. If practitioners have to travel to a lecture at a host site in another facility, the time lost to travel equals less time spent seeing patients. Training over video unites practitioners more efficiently because they can all receive the training at once, often without leaving their own facility.

New protocols, devices, or care plans: Video and multimedia tools make it possible to effectively inform multiple employees about hospital or health care rules and regulations. Information can be dispersed at one time, from one source. The information is uniform, unlike when multiple sources deliver data. Uniform information reduces the chances that any legal or compliance conflicts arise.
Health Care Grant Expertise

There are a variety of government grants that are available to fund telehealth initiatives. IVCi works with our video conferencing manufacturers’ grant teams to assist our customers in identifying the specific Federal grants that are right for their needs, and then to secure those funds. Health care grants may cover the expenses of video conferencing equipment that is used for distance learning or telemedicine, instructional programming, technical assistance for eligible equipment, technical training, maintenance of the equipment, and more.