Telemedicine: Coronavirus Prompts Hospitals to Fast-Track Telemedicine Projects

Coronavirus has prompted several hospitals to scramble up video conferencing solutions. While they are laudatory, there has to be a clear line of thought process to implement this for the long term.

Telemedicine has so far remained on the fringes. I remember the time when I was tracking the development of the broadband industry, One of the promises was “telemedicine” and how the “distances would shrink”.

I haven’t seen a practical implementation barring a demonstrator project in one of the hospitals I worked for. They had a huge LCD TV for “telepathology” and languished in the corner for “lack of funds”. It is impossible to bring about a behavioural change as long as there is no “direction from the top”. Telemedicine still remains a vanity project as there is no “return on investment”.

St. Luke’s University Health Network in Pennsylvania is testing a videoconferencing tool targeting older patients, the most vulnerable to coronavirus, who don’t use the hospital’s mobile-device based telemedicine tools and prefer using a desktop or laptop.

A patient calling a physician’s office will receive an email with a link allowing the doctor and patient to start a video consultation. The hospital hopes to deploy this technology next week.

I would be curious to see how long this sustains. A lot of factors are involved- scalability, packet encryption, ability to record the stream, playback and legal liabilities. This might be scaled up if the insurance companies are willing to pay for it- but it won’t take a genius to figure out that the quantum of payouts would be less than a personal visit. In that scenario, these fancy ideas would languish all over again as they have no proven ROI.

I’ll be waiting for someone to “research” on it and then crow about it on Twitter.

via Coronavirus Prompts Hospitals to Fast-Track Telemedicine Projects – WSJ