In the fight against COVID-19 and other communicable diseases, telemedicine technology has become a central strategy of the overall telehealth model and a necessity for practitioners to provide both safe and effective care to their patients. Now is the time to make sure that your facility's audio/visual systems are reliable and up-to-date.
Getting into Telemedicine?
Below are key factors to consider when developing your telemedicine solution. It's important to consider the best hardware options, platform, installation and service. By researching and identifying your telemedicine solution in detail, you will save time and get up and running quickly and efficiently.
Custom-configured hardware and peripherals are essential in providing care that is secure, dependable, and patient-friendly. Healthcare facilities are equally bound to HIPAA privacy laws regardless of whether the patient is seen face-to-face visit or through telemedicine. A bespoke telemedicine system addresses the specific patient care needs of your facility while maintaining confidentiality.
Some Examples of Common Hardware Usage Include:
- Portable Systems - Sometimes described as 'carts', these systems serve many healthcare needs, both educational and clinical. While educational carts are used for interviews, meetings, and training, clinical cart design is centered around patient care. Carts are generally comprised of a monitor, keyboard, Codec for encryption, camera, and remote control. Clinical carts usually have a PC. Information can be stored while assessments are made, pictures can be taken, and live images can be viewed. This provides continuity of care as other clinicians in your system can access this information. Your portable system can also include various patient assessment tools as peripherals.
- Peripherals - Your patient assessment tool kit may contain digital stethoscopes, vital sign monitors, spirometers, probes, ECG systems, dermatologic or radiologic cameras and more.
- Computers - Desktop or laptop-style computers can be incorporated into your cart design. These are preloaded with HIPAA-compliant software to protect your patient's privacy with encryption.
- Tablets - Android and iOS tablets can be used to continue communication between you and your patient regardless of your location. Mobile technology is helpful in many healthcare settings including the emergency department. Patients can also use tablets to monitor their symptoms and report them directly to their clinicians in real-time.
- Telemedicine Kiosks - These kiosks - which can sometimes resemble a small photo booth - are typically stocked with medical devices and equipment needed for a "meeting-on-the-go" as they are mobile. Think of them as a 'pop-up' clinic.
- Digital Camera - To add the visual element of telemedicine, a digital camera or webcam will take things to the next level with visual communication. Within telemedicine, there are also cameras with capabilities that extend to examination-integrated cameras for medical imaging.
- Displays - The screens and monitors incorporated with the telemedicine set up are the business end of the system. They're used for visuals and are responsible for providing a clear picture.
When it comes to the hardware aspect of telemedicine, the right choice is always a solution that is easy to use and approachable by staff. Adoption is key. Making the right investment will help your staff be better at their jobs and result in better care and happier patients.
Ready for the Telemedicine Route?
Are you ready to go the telemedicine route? You can view our pre-assembled Health Vision One mobile cart that fast tracks remote patient consulting. Install and a 90 day guarantee are included. Click here for more details.
There are several platforms for distance meeting and teleconferencing that are being adapted or just adopted into the telemedicine space. As the solution category matures, these platforms will increasingly offer integrations with the rest of the telehealth suite of tools used in your facility. Look for telemedicine platforms that have a demonstrated record of integration success and who are actively pursuing product development roadmaps that include these specific use cases with an option to work seamlessly with other software like enterprise-level EMR systems.
Digital patient Record Keeping
These customized EMR software tools enable you to keep digital records for each patient. Patient data is encrypted to ensure privacy when being forwarded to other clinicians within or outside your facility. Bespoke software programs can include evidence-based tools to help you make better care decisions while utilizing a fully integrated system that automates a number of different tasks.
Streamline Patient Operations
Having customized software at your fingertips greatly improves the quality of care and efficiency while saving your facility money, and planning for seamless integration opportunities between platforms like these will streamline patient operations.
Initial Hospital Assessment
Your telemedicine system design is not only hardware and software. Infrastructure requirements play a large role. While the initial assessment includes room location and size, lighting, flooring, power, data, and conduit pathways, the full infrastructure extends throughout your entire facility and services critical records systems, IoT medical devices, and specialized patient care systems . Even internet-based systems using existing computers can impact infrastructure performance depending on design of structured wiring, distinct networks, fail-over protocols, quality of service rules, and more. Connecting your system's IS&T specialists with your telemedicine provider will ensure burden is distributed and no interruption of service to critical systems.
Before beginning the installation process, you want to be sure you are working with a company who understands the unique audio-visual needs of healthcare facilities and identifies the specific requirements for a successful telemedicine installation in your facility.
Highly Reputable Installation Company
Make sure that the company you choose is certified, bonded, insured, experienced, and has verifiable references. It's also important to speak to customers who had an installation done several years ago. If they are still happy with their installation, it's a testament to a job well done.
Find out what vendors the installation company works with. If the quality of the hardware they install is not up to par, it won't matter how well they installed it. They should have solid relationships with top-quality vendors. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
Finally, make sure the company you choose to do your installation provides the necessary training on how to use it. They should also advise you to contact them with any questions you may have at any time in the future.
A service contract is paramount. Make sure your installation company provides you with one, goes over it with you, and answers any questions you may have to your complete satisfaction. Look for what they can commit to in terms of service after the install and training. Things like fast response to service calls and a nationwide network of technicians – those are two key elements to choosing a vendor who doesn’t leave you on your own after install.
The best service agreements give you more than one option to choose from. For example, you should be provided with a call center number to use for minor issues that you just need to be walked through for some troubleshooting. However, if it's something more serious, like damage from an accident, you will want access to experts through a service portal. Having the installation company's email address handy is a good idea, too.
Make It Easy for Patients
Recent technological advances have made it possible to provide a higher quality of care to patients than ever before. Telemedicine makes that possible for patients visiting your facility as well as those who need to access medical care from another location, even remote areas.
Seamless Transition into Your Hospital
The installation company you hire should be able to provide your facility with everything you need for a seamless transition from installation to education to utilization. Choose wisely.
We invite you to contact the telemedicine experts at PTG for more information.