Kim R. Pemble, Corporate Director of IS Operations and Technical Services, is responsible for the technology infrastructure and field services teams at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Children’s Hospital provides pediatric care in more than 70 medical specialties at its two inpatient facilities, as well as at outpatient clinics throughout the state. Its pediatric specialists also collaborate with other healthcare organizations statewide so patients can access care closer to their homes.

When we spoke to Kim, he had some insightful predictions on the impact telemedicine is having on physician consultation and collaboration. He noted that several years ago, the trend shifted to directing patients to go to clinics instead of hospitals when they needed care — and Kim thinks this will soon transition to home care. “I believe that within the next five years, patients will be directed not to go a clinic, but to stay home. If we’re going to do that, we need to have technology that allows us to collaborate and consult not only provider to provider but also provider to patient,” Kim said.

Kim believes that how data from remote monitoring is generated and used is also part of this collaborative approach, and will drive future interactions with patients. For example, determining if it’s acceptable to have a telemedicine consult with a patient through Skype or a similar video conferencing technology will become imperative. Limits in technology accessibility for some patients also will need to be considered, so the general population can be included. “Given broad geography, telemedicine consults become more cost-effective than moving patients or providers. Our patients see it as an increase in value because it saves them time,” Kim said.

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We asked Kim to explain some of the challenges of telemedicine he’s encountered. He advised against letting the excitement of new technology get ahead of all-important planning, telling us, “I’m seeing far too many occurrences where the technology gets out in front of the awareness and understanding of the workflow on the business and clinical side. It’s important to actively engage stakeholders and identify the opportunities.”

Kim offered some advice for peers who are considering implementing collaborative and consultative tools, particularly video conferencing:

  1. Understand the requirements and the business case. Be sure to incorporate planning around clinical referral patterns, marketing of specialty services, and requirements for next steps in patient transitions and transportation.
  2. Establish anticipated outcome metrics jointly with the clinical and business leaders. Measure these, assess their performance and apply the findings to planning your next steps.
  3. Be prepared to scale technology, particularly bandwidth.
  4. Consider diagnostic vs. educational needs when assessing image resolution.

Read the full discussion for more details on the steps Children’s Hospital is taking to integrate telemedicine consultation into patient care and how they’re evaluating their performance.

Learn more about CDW Healthcare’s telehealth services.

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