Telemedicine: The Next Generation of Healthcare?

Muma Case Review  •  Volume 3  •  2018  •  pp. 001-021
Telemedicine technology had advanced rapidly with the growth of the internet in the 2000’s. The technology, also known as telehealth, allowed patients to receive medical care remotely rather than traditional in-person doctor visits at a facility. Consumer demand exploded throughout the 2010’s, and some of the best hospitals in the world started implementing some forms of telehealth technology; some were subtle, some overt. However, for many hospitals like Lakeland Regional Health (LRH), telehealth was yet to be offered as a wide-scale option for patients to use.

Elizabeth, LRH’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), had just come from a committee meeting where she and other executives discussed how telemedicine could be best implemented at LRH, if at all. The technology had only just begun to be technologically reliable, and the price tag for offering such services was heavy. Their immediate objective was to properly align LRH’s entry into telemedicine services without sacrificing their high commitment to quality patient care. As Elizabeth began to unwind from work, she pondered questions regarding costs, government regulations, and how the telehealth adoption would affect LRH’s financial position. After jotting down a few notes, she suddenly received a call; it was her sister Cindy.

Cindy explained that she was concerned about her daughter because she had displayed flu-like symptoms throughout the day and, unfortunately, she was not able to take her daughter to the emergency room (ER). Cindy remembered Elizabeth talking about telehealth, and how some of the local hospitals were offering telemedicine prescription services over the internet or phone app as an option instead of having to go to the ER for some medicine. Elizabeth referred her to the hospital offering the telemedicine services, but she wanted to be able to refer Cindy directly to LRH considering they were known for providing outstanding patient care.

Elizabeth wished Cindy’s daughter well, and they said their goodbyes. Elizabeth knew that telemedicine could have been helpful for her sister that night. Now, even more, she was motivated to advocate for the project. She reflected on how LRH could offer telehealth services without compromising the quality of patient care and without negatively impacting the hospital’s financial standing. Was this even possible?
Electronic Health Records, healthcare, insurance, Regulation, Telemedicine
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