Author: Nicole Brinson
4 Pitfalls That Hinder Telehealth Success, Part 2
Avoiding these common pitfalls will help healthcare organizations realize the full potential of this soon-to-be $34 billion market.
In part 1 of this blog, I talked about the exploding telehealth and videoconferencing markets and highlighted two common pitfalls that shortchange healthcare companies’ success, including disparate communication systems limited by customized/proprietary APIs and failing to plan all workflows. In part two, I’ll share two additional common pitfalls users must avoid and offer some success tips.
Pitfall #3: neglecting the user experience
Another common problem that occurs when a company doesn't properly plan an implementation, or it inherits technology following a merger or acquisition, is that users don’t know how to use the telemedicine or videoconferencing system. In some instances, employee training is a quick resolution. At other times, however, the videoconferencing or telehealth system configuration may need to be updated. For example, if a user is required to dial a number and use a keyboard and mousepad to enter a PIN or type in an IP address, there's a high probability people are going to forget a step along the way. This leads to frustration and an aversion to using the system in the future. Keeping the user experience top of mind throughout an evaluation or implementation—and reducing the number of steps and clicks to make things work—is vital.
Pitfall #4: trying to handle all technical support with internal resources only
Like computers and servers, videoconferencing and telehealth systems require ongoing updates such as firmware and security patches, plus regular maintenance to function correctly. Additionally, when a user experiences a problem connecting and needs assistance, there's often a short window to resolve the issue before users abandon the session and move on to “plan B.” If a video system isn’t equipped with remote access and management capabilities, that means every time there’s a problem someone has to physically track down an IT person and hope the person has the time and resources to fix the problem. Another drawback with relying solely on internal IT support is that there’s likely to be a skills gap when it comes to troubleshooting video systems. When a healthcare company outsources telehealth and videoconferencing management and support to a managed services provider (MSP), on the other hand, they gain access to a team of experts. Plus, by using remote monitoring and management software, the MSP often can detect and resolve problems with the telehealth and videoconferencing systems before the client even realizes there was a problem.
4 pillars of a telehealth strategy
Bedroc has assisted dozens of healthcare professionals with telehealth and videoconferencing projects over the years. Although each client's need is unique from another, here are four telemedicine and videoconferencing strategies that are essentials for every company:
- Ease of use. The solution should be easy to use for corporate users, clinicians and patients alike. Otherwise, frustrations will escalate and systems will be abandoned.
- Seamless integration. A telehealth system should seamlessly integrate with the organization’s other IT and medical systems, including electronic health records (EHR) and unified communication (UC) platforms.
- Interoperability and external reach. The solution needs to work with all standards-based systems and to extend the customer's communication reach. Plus, it must support mobile/BYOD (bring your own device) participation.
- Support implications. On the operational side, the videoconferencing system must support self-service and full-service models as well as remote monitoring on the corporate and clinical sides of the business.
Final assessment: Focus on the user experience and work with an expert
When it comes to implementing sophisticated voice- and video-collaboration solutions, consolidating technology down to one provider isn’t always financially or logistically feasible. Often, a hybrid cloud platform strategy that enables multivendor solutions to work together while simplifying the user experience is needed. A final reminder is that the platform should serve as a conduit allowing an MSP to deliver ongoing monitoring, management, maintenance and training to ensure optimal performance and security as the healthcare business grows.