Digestive Disease Week
Digestive Disease Week
Perspective from Harry Sarles, MD, FACG
July 20, 2018
2 min read
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Keys to selecting the right telehealth platform

Perspective from Harry Sarles, MD, FACG
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WASHINGTON — Whether for real-time e-visits or remote patient monitoring, telehealth is likely to play a big role in the future of medicine as more technology and devices become available.

In a presentation at Digestive Disease Week 2018, Anantachai Panjamapirom, PhD, MBA, MS, CPHIMS, a senior consultant at The Advisory Board Company, said telehealth covers a wide range of technology, so there are a lot of choices a practice has to wade through when selecting the right platform.

“Telemedicine is a digital tool that is offering or facilitating a meaningful interaction between patient and provider, or between two providers, with a goal of improving diagnoses, treatment and ongoing care management,” he said in his presentation. “When you decide your telehealth program and [are] picking out a platform, it has to be based on your goals of what you want to achieve.”

The following are three key aspects of telehealth Panjamapirom said must be considered when selecting the platform:

Affordability

According to Panjamapirom, it is important to prioritize technology that already has achieved widespread use among consumers. Using smartphones, as well as web-based platforms, can help ensure adherence for both patients and physicians.

“There’s many technologies out there, but the ones that offer a much better rate of adoption are the ones that your patients and you yourself are already familiar with,” Panjamapirom said. “We’ve seen smartphone adoption skyrocketing over the years across age groups. That’s one of the common platforms where we’ve seen organizations using for their telehealth.”

Reliability

Just because the technology is widely available does not mean it will fit the needs of each individual practice. Panjamapirom said there needs to be an awareness of the limitation of technology and about what kind of platform fits each practice’s needs, whether it be in terms of diagnostic accuracy or internet connectivity.

“You’ve probably heard about ‘bring your own device,’” he said. “Patients have their own smartphones, but is it going to be a reliable service from the connection perspective, from the clinical appropriateness perspective. That has to be part of the equation.”

Ease of use

This aspect can either make or break a telehealth program, according to Panjamapirom. He said it is important to pick technology that fits in with a patient’s daily life or with a practice’s normal workflow.

“It’s going to be the ease of use from your perspective, from the frontline staff, and also from the patient perspective,” he said. “When you select a platform, you want to make it work for you and work for your patients.”

Additionally, Panjamapirom said to consider what kind of training staff will need to implement the system and if they will be able to use it in an effective way.

“If it’s going to make the process worse, then that is not the answer for you,” he said. “You want to make sure your program improves efficiency for you, but at the same time, will it be able to help you enhance patient experience as part of that care delivery process.” - by Alex Young

Resource:

Panjamapirom A. Symposium 870. Presented at: Digestive Disease Week; June 2-5, 2018; Washington, D.C.

Disclosures: Panjamapirom reports no relevant financial disclosures