Integrating telemedicine and telehealth: putting it all together

Arizona Telemedicine Program, Department of Pathology, University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson Campus, 1501 N. Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA.
Studies in health technology and informatics 02/2008; 131:23-38.
Source: PubMed


Telemedicine and telehealth programs are inherently complex compared with their traditional on-site health care delivery counterparts. Relatively few organizations have developed sustainable, multi-specialty telemedicine programs, although single service programs, such as teleradiology and telepsychiatry programs, are common. A number of factors are barriers to the development of sustainable telemedicine and telehealth programs. First, starting programs is often challenging since relatively few organizations have, in house, a critical mass of individuals with the skill sets required to organize and manage a telemedicine program. Therefore, it is necessary to "boot strap" many of the start-up activities using available personnel. Another challenge is to assemble a management team that has time to champion telemedicine and telehealth while dealing with the broad range of issues that often confront telemedicine programs. Telemedicine programs housed within a single health care delivery system have advantages over programs that serve as umbrella telehealth organizations for multiple health care systems. Planning a telemedicine program can involve developing a shared vision among the participants, including the parent organizations, management, customers and the public. Developing shared visions can be a time-consuming, iterative process. Part of planning includes having the partnering organizations and their management teams reach a consensus on the initial program goals, priorities, strategies, and implementation plans. Staffing requirements of telemedicine and telehealth programs may be met by sharing existent resources, hiring additional personnel, or outsourcing activities. Business models, such as the Application Service Provider (ASP) model used by the Arizona Telemedicine Program, are designed to provide staffing flexibility by offering a combination of in-house and out-sourced services, depending on the needs of the individual participating health care organizations. Telemedicine programs should perform ongoing assessments of activities, ranging from service usage to quality of service assessments, to ongoing analyses of financial performance. The financial assessments should include evaluations of costs and benefits, coding issues, reimbursement, account receivables, bad debt and network utilization. Long-range strategic planning for a telemedicine and telehealth program should be carried out on an on-going basis and should include the program's governing board. This planning process should include goal setting and the periodic updating of the program's vision and mission statements. There can be additional special issues for multi-organization telemedicine and telehealth programs. For example, authority management can require the use of innovative approaches tailored to the realities of the organizational structures of the participating members. Inter-institutional relations may introduce additional issues when competing health care organizations are utilizing shared resources. Branding issues are preferably addressed during the initial planning of a multi-organizational telemedicine and telehealth program. Ideally, public policy regarding telemedicine and telehealth within a service region will complement the objectives of telemedicine and telehealth programs within that service area.

  • Source
    • "In order to have an added value for community-dwelling elderly people and care professionals the monitoring and feedback system should not function as a stand-alone intervention but instead it should be integrated in usual care. Previous research has shown that blended-care approaches, where telecare interventions are embedded in professional care processes, yield more positive results and are more sustainable.40,41 However, before the monitoring and feedback system can be integrated in care, more insight is needed into its long-term acceptance according to elderly users and their care providers. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To involve elderly people during the development of a mobile interface of a monitoring system that provides feedback to them regarding changes in physical functioning and to test the system in a pilot study. The iterative user-centered development process consisted of the following phases: (1) selection of user representatives; (2) analysis of users and their context; (3) identification of user requirements; (4) development of the interface; and (5) evaluation of the interface in the lab. Subsequently, the monitoring and feedback system was tested in a pilot study by five patients who were recruited via a geriatric outpatient clinic. Participants used a bathroom scale to monitor weight and balance, and a mobile phone to monitor physical activity on a daily basis for six weeks. Personalized feedback was provided via the interface of the mobile phone. Usability was evaluated on a scale from 1 to 7 using a modified version of the Post-Study System Usability Questionnaire (PSSUQ); higher scores indicated better usability. Interviews were conducted to gain insight into the experiences of the participants with the system. The developed interface uses colors, emoticons, and written and/or spoken text messages to provide daily feedback regarding (changes in) weight, balance, and physical activity. The participants rated the usability of the monitoring and feedback system with a mean score of 5.2 (standard deviation 0.90) on the modified PSSUQ. The interviews revealed that most participants liked using the system and appreciated that it signaled changes in their physical functioning. However, usability was negatively influenced by a few technical errors. Involvement of elderly users during the development process resulted in an interface with good usability. However, the technical functioning of the monitoring system needs to be optimized before it can be used to support elderly people in their self-management.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Patient Preference and Adherence
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The importance of public policy as a complementary framework for telehealth, telemedicine, and by association telerehabilitation, has been recognized by a number of experts. The purpose of this paper is to review literature on telerehabilitation (TR) policy and research methodology issues in order to report on the current state of the science and make recommendations about future research needs. An extensive literature search was implemented using search terms grouped into main topics of telerehabilitation, policy, population of users, and policy specific issues such as cost and reimbursement. The availability of rigorous and valid evidence-based cost studies emerged as a major challenge to the field. Existing cost studies provided evidence that telehomecare may be a promising application area for TR. Cost studies also indicated that telepsychiatry is a promising telepractice area. The literature did not reference the International Classification on Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). Rigorous and comprehensive TR assessment and evaluation tools for outcome studies are tantamount to generating confidence among providers, payers, clinicians and end users. In order to evaluate consumer satisfaction and participation, assessment criteria must include medical, functional and quality of life items such as assistive technology and environmental factors. Keywords: Telerehabilitation, Telehomecare, Telepsychiatry, Telepractice
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2008
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Roadmap for Medical Research aims to increase the efficiency and speed of clinical research. We report results and lessons learned from a key component of the Roadmap, the Clinical Research Networks initiative. Twelve diverse, experienced, large, clinical research networks were funded for 3 years to develop strategies for integrating, expanding, and increasing the interoperability of clinical research networks in support of the Roadmap goals. Network leaders met periodically in person and by teleconference to describe common challenges encountered and solutions used for expansion and increased interoperability. These networks developed innovative solutions to technical challenges, including strategies for interoperability of information systems and management of complex information system technologies (eg, "brokering" to address data system incompatibility, data transfer, and security requirements), and solutions to human factor challenges at the individual, group, intraorganizational, and interorganizational levels (eg, applying collaborative organizing and decision-making processes based on key principles). These solutions can provide guidance to existing and future clinical research networks, particularly those forming as part of the NIH Clinical Translation Science Award program. Remaining technical and human factor challenges, however, as well as the largely unmet need for consistent funding for network infrastructure and maintenance, stand in the way of fulfilling the vision of a robust future role for clinical research networks.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2008 · Archives of internal medicine
Show more