10 steps to a successful telemedicine program

From market assessments to self-assessments, Becker's Orthopedic, Spine & Pain Management Review offers 10 best practices for implementing telemedicine in hospitals that want to improve access, reduce costs and boost quality of care.

"The first step is to do an honest assessment of your capabilities and the needs [of] communities," Tim Smith, M.D., vice president of research for the Center for Innovative Care at St. Louis-based Mercy Hospital, told Becker's. Mercy started its telemedicine process with a community needs analysis. The organization's leaders met with members of the community at different events to determine what healthcare services they most needed, according to the article.

The next step is to do an honest self-assessment, according to the article. "You need to be able to speak to your strengths within the service [and] match that with the needs of the community," Aaron Bair, M.D., medical director for the Center for Health and Technology at Sacramento-based University of California Davis Health System. "It doesn't make sense to start down the path where the market is already saturated or you do not have specialists available."

Other keys to success include developing a timeline for key stages of the project, enlisting administrator and physician champions, analyzing outcomes and integrating telemedicine with other systems.

To learn more:
- read the full list of best practices

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