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10 Things Telemedicine Should Learn from the EMR Fiasco


The rollout of electronic medical records has been anything but smooth. Healthcare organizations had best learn from those mistakes to avoid a similar fumbling of the telemedicine rollout.

Everyone, it seems, except for the EMR industry and the government, is complaining about EMRs. Doctors feel like high priced, unappreciated data entry clerks, patients think that their doctors should give them more face time instead of screen time and CMIO's are pulling their hair out trying to get everyone on board. Almost everyone agrees, though, that we have passed the point of no return and that the digitization of Sick Care information has great promise if done right.

Similar things are being said about telemedicine and there is the risk that the industry will make the same mistakes in their rush to connect. Remember the last time you asked your doctor to pull up that CT scan you had last night in the ER across town? Good luck. How about asking her to pull up your telemedicine consultation you had yesterday by a tele-someone now that you are worse?

Here are some teachable moments:

1. Poor user interfaces.

2. Focusing on features, not benefits.

3. Lack of interoperability and integration.

4. Lack of consideration for continuity of care and the inevitable dropped handoffs and referral leaks.

5. Using the systems to bill instead of delivering validated care improvement and value.

6. Ignoring workflow challenges and how adding a new care delivery channel will further complicate, not simplify, overall care delivery.

7. Human factor issues and the importance of education and training of doctors, intermediaries, and patients.

8. Smokestacked solutions instead of a whole product solution.

9. Incorporating remote sensing information and data derived from the Internet of Things.

10. Overcoming nagging digital health design, testing, validation, and deployment gaps

Telemedicine has a long way to go before it is baked into Sick Care education and clinical practice. Let's hope we don't make too many of the same mistakes on the way. Unfortunately, we already have.

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