On 7 July 2022, the IHF’s Telehealth SIG hosted the first webinar in a series of Lunch and Learns in collaboration with Charité – Universitätsmedizin BerlinMayo Clinic and Teladoc Health

The series consists of three interactive workshops to provide clinical and managerial hospital executives with practical guidance on the design and implementation of sustainable acute care telehealth programmes.

All three workshops will be chaired by Ed Percy, the Vice President of Hospital and Health Systems for Teladoc Health. The featured panel of distinguished speakers includes: Dr Jennifer Fang (MD, MS, FAAP), the Medical Director of Mayo Clinic’s Tele-Neonatology Program; Beth Kreofsky (MBA), Assistant Professor of Healthcare Administration and Operations Manager of Mayo Clinic’s Tele-Neonatology Program; and Dr Björn Weiss, an Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Consultant at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

The first workshop focused on matching telehealth programmes to patient need. The panel identified addressing a “quality gap,” in factors such as patient outcome, safety, experience, and cost, as the main determinant for the design of effective telehealth programmes. The panel recommended specific steps and considerations for the design process, laid out below, using their own programmes as examples.

How to design a telehealth programme

  1. Define the patient population
    a. Who do you want to serve? Consider age, location, and diagnosis
  2. Define the current gap in patient care
    a. e.g. quality of care, patient outcomes, patient safety, patient experience, cost of care, and workforce capacity
  3. Ask why a change is needed and tell a compelling story
    a. Reference literature, internal hospital or healthcare system data, and patient stories for support
  4. Determine how telemedicine can help
    a. Potential to engage with populations previously inaccessible
    b. Opportunity for a global reach
  5. See current challenges and make your case
    a. How does a telemedicine programme align with your institution’s strategies?
    b. Does your staff perceive telemedicine to be valuable? (e.g. conduct interviews, focus groups and site visits)
    c. Consider patient perspective
  6. Are there better alternatives?
    a. e.g. on-site staffing changes, outreach education and training, and combined solutions

Getting started in telehealth_Designing and implementing a sustainable programme

At the end of the webinar, attendees had the opportunity to submit their questions to the panel. When asked about the typical implementation timeline for a telehealth programme, Beth Kreofsky explained that the time frame depends on how much institutional support exists, but can take anywhere from 8 weeks to 18 months. Dr Fang and Dr Weiss were asked how the effectiveness of telehealth programmes can be measured, compared to on-site care. Dr Weiss recommended looking at processes – including the technology used and its structure – rather than simply measuring outcomes. Dr Fang added that telehealth programmes will require more descriptive work, in addition to quantifiable measurements. The final question addressed whether telehealth programmes faced possible limitations in distance. To which Dr Weiss asserted that social and cultural contexts presented a greater dilemma than distance and stressed the need for a deep understanding of the environment remote partners are operating in.

The key takeaways from sessions 2 and 3 in this series are available here:

                                                   

The recording of workshop 1 is available for catch-up viewing.

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