Implementing telemedicine solutions in Grand Hospital would ensure that the healthcare provider would provide clinical care to many patients at a distance. Telemedicine is based on the adoption of telecommunication and information technology applications in the provision of healthcare to patients.
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The Grand Hospital was one of the earliest healthcare providers among hospitals in the region to adopt healthcare systems and is currently using a proprietary healthcare information system that provides several components. Some of the components provided by the healthcare information system are the following:
- Patient registration and revenue management information system
- Electronic health records with automated physician order entry
- Imaging via PACS
- Laboratory management system
- Pharmacy management system
The early adoption of healthcare information system by the hospital would ensure that it successfully implements telemedicine solutions in the areas of radiology, behavioral health, and intensive care. Already, there is an established platform on which the healthcare information system is running.
Telemedicine requires excellent application of telecommunication and information technology tools. The telecommunication technologies will enable physicians and other healthcare personnel to communicate with their clients (patients) from a distance. The telemedicine solutions will be geared towards preventing distance barrier that could hinder the provision of quality healthcare to patients who could be far from the hospital.
Already, the healthcare information system has been in use for some time in the hospital. Physicians and other healthcare personnel in the hospital have been communicating with their counterparts across departments. For instance, healthcare personnel in the pharmacy department could communicate with those in the registry department to share patients’ data.
Therefore, the healthcare information system has been used, and its efficiency noted. This will go a long way in ensuring that the telecommunication and information technology applications to be adopted by the hospital will have easy implementation.
The hospital personnel have been using the healthcare information system components for various applications. The hospital personnel will be the end-users of the telemedicine solutions.
The fact that hospital personnel are effectively utilizing the healthcare information system will ensure that telemedicine solutions will be easily adopted by the hospital personnel. If the hospital did not have a running healthcare information system, it would be difficult to implement telemedicine solutions in the three proposed areas.
Adoption of telemedicine solutions requires personnel who are committed to using telecommunication and information technology applications. The hospital is planning to hire radiologists who will be available around the clock to interpret diagnostic images. The hospital might not hire well trained radiologists who will be ready to incorporate telemedicine in their radiology services. This could hinder the hospital from implementing telemedicine solutions in the radiology area.
The hospital also plans to hire psychiatrists who will be available around the clock to determine whether behavioral health patients who present in the hospital’s emergency department are a danger to themselves and to other persons.
The psychiatrists would also be determining whether such patients would be released or committed against their will for further assessment on an inpatient basis. Unwillingness of the staff to be hired in the behavioral health area would also hinder the implementation of telemedicine solutions in the hospital. The hospital plans to hire physicians who will be working on a full-time basis in the intensive care in the hospital. They will be providing their care through the use of telemedicine technologies.
The radiology area would be the easiest to transition to telemedicine. Teleradiology involves sending radiographic images to radiologists so that they could interpret them. The radiology area will easily adopt telemedicine solutions because it would involve three components. The components are the following: a sending station, an image transmission network, and a receiving station.
Radiologists could receive images, read and interpret them so that they could offer clinical conclusion. The radiology area will be the easiest to adopt telemedicine because it would not involve a physician observing a patient through videoconferencing.
The behavioral health area would be the hardest to adopt telemedicine solutions. Psychiatrists would be required to observe patients and offer their clinical opinions that would determine whether patients should be released or committed in the hospital for further assessments.
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Patients presenting with behavioral problems would be difficult to handle and make them to concentrate for videoconferencing. Such patients could be hostile and restless. Videoconferencing would not be practical in solving problems of behavioral health patients.
There are five major steps I would take to ensure that I bring telemedicine to the Grand Hospital within 18 months. The first step would be planning and establishing a vision so that personnel in the hospital could know what telemedicine will involve and its impact on the hospital operations. It has been established that personnel who are well informed about changes in their workplace tend to adopt the changes positively.
The implication could be that the implementation of the telemedicine solutions could be a success. The second step would be building a long-term financial plan. This would ensure that the proposed telemedicine solutions in the hospital would have financial support in the future. Programs without solid long-term financial plans tend to fail during implementation. The third step would involve the creation of a convenient and effective work environment.
This would involve taking telemedicine facilities to offices where physicians work. This step would ensure that the sending room is similar to patient examination room. The step would also involve proposing the best telemedicine facilities to use in the three areas (radiology, behavioral health and intensive care). The fourth step would involve detailing the changes that could be brought by the telemedicine solutions.
Many changes would lead to failure of the proposed solutions. This step would aim at ensuring that the envisaged changes are minimal. They could appear minimal but lead to improved healthcare. The fifth step would involve training of personnel on the use of various facilities in telemedicine.
Some telecommunication and information technology applications could be complicated, and it could be essential to train all the hospital personnel on their manipulations. This would go a long way in ensuring that the telemedicine solutions are easily adopted by personnel once they are implemented.
I would involve the top level management, middle level management and low level management in the planning process. I would request the lower-level managers to involve their juniors so that they could give their view on the types of facilities and changes they could be comfortable to handle with minimum training.
The trainings would be conducted on a regular basis to ensure that the targeted personnel are informed about emerging issues during the planning and implementation phases. The trainings would involve the following: clinical and communication technology, documentation and troubleshooting. These components would go a long way in ensuring that the targeted personnel are equipped with the required basic skills and knowledge.