HIMSS15: Telemedicine adoption model provides a standard for planning, evaluation

A telemedicine adoption model, similar to one used to compare trauma centers across the United States, was unveiled at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference in Chicago last week.

The model, co-developed by the Health Care Advisory practice of Ernst and Young and telemedicine experts from leading academic medical centers, provides a standardized national system to evaluate the maturity of telemedicine programs, according to an announcement.

The model can be used, according to a HIMSS presentation, for:

  • Evaluation and systematic planning
  • Establishing a process that enables scalability
  • Determining the appropriate level of investment
  • Assessing progress

Under the eight-level model, early-stage telemedicine practices support basic capabilities, such as videoconferencing for physician education and access to patient health portals. More mature organizations offer patients virtual consults and exams. Hospitals with a high level of adoption significantly integrate telemedicine into care delivery, are capable of remotely monitoring patients, integrate telemedicine data into an internal EHR and exchange that data with external organizations.

"Enabling healthcare providers to easily compare their existing telemedicine and telehealth services with other programs across the country allows a systematic approach to planning, assessing and maximizing investments in telemedicine services and technologies," Natasa Sokolovich, executive director of telehealth at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a member of the National Telemedicine Nomenclature Advisory Council, says of the model, which grew out of a year of research.

State and federal government action on payments and policies is boosting adoption of telemedicine, but barriers such as reimbursement and cross-state licensure remain, according to a recent policy spotlight by PwC.

Peter Yellowless, a psychiatry professor at the University of California, Davis, uses videoconferencing to treat his patients and finds that allowing them to create avatars can be a better option than in-person visits. One program at Boston Children's Hospital sends kids home with mobile robots that facilitate telehealth visits.

To learn more:
- find the announcement
- here's the HIMSS presentation (.pdf)