“The project is important
>>The project is important because it
because it could help ensure
the early detection and moni- could help ensure the early detection
toring of children at higher and monitoring of children at higher
risk of developing a chronic risk of developing a chronic disease.
disease,” says Dr. Anthony
—Dr. Anthony Smith, University of Queensland
Smith, senior research fellow
at the University’s Centre for Online Health. “It may “With telemedicine projects you often have the
also help the coordination of specialist tertiary failure of success,” he says. Well-meaning doctors
services—ensuring that treatment and follow-up support the initiatives—but then become over-services are delivered in the most efficient manner.” whelmed by increasing demands on their time.
“You have to think these projects through and
put mechanisms in place to keep the doctors
engaged,” Mr. Linkhous says.
Many physicians have carefully choreographed
schedules, so if you’re going to introduce a different way of seeing patients, it has to be done
without a significant change in the way they
operate their practices, he says.
The technology should be located in the
physician’s office, and patients seen via telemedicine should adhere to the same schedule the doctor
normally follows. Mr. Linkhous also recommends
developing backup plans—just in case of a
“But if it’s planned the right way, [physicians]
should have minimal disruptions,” he says.
KEEP IT REAL
Virtual healthcare projects are “never as easy as
they seem,” says Jonathan Linkhous, CEO of the
American Telemedicine Association, Washington,
Too often, organizations try to import complex
technology ill-suited to the end-users. “You need to
keep the technology and the applications simple,
useful and relevant to the needs of the people in
the home sites,” he says.
It also helps to partner with area healthcare
experts to make sure local stakeholders don’t feel
threatened by the project. And forging those ties
means the team has champions who can serve as a
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