As you begin on your quest to find the right vendor, let six telehealth practitioners inspire you with their perspective and insights on how organizations should prepare for selecting a telehealth vendor.
“Everybody agreed until somebody defined it.”— Christian Milaster
Before we get started, we wanted to provide some clarity as to the terminology used to differentiate between Telehealth and Telemedicine and also to provide definitions for the specific types of telemedicine:
To understand the relationships of the various telehealth-related terms, consider the following taxonomy:
Your understanding of this taxonomy will be helpful in your search for vendors, as most vendors only serve one specific type of service, e.g., only for Interactive Patient Care or only for Remote Patient Monitoring.
Telehealth: Delivering Healthcare at a Distance.
Telemedicine: Practicing Medicine at a Distance.
Interactive Patient Care (IPC) Live Video, Chat, or Phone Interaction between a Clinician and a Patient.
You have ideally developed a Telehealth Program Strategy that explains why your organization is interested in
employing telehealth and to what end. At a minimum you want to be very clear about the clinical and strategic
reasons for why you are launching a telehealth service for which you want to select a telehealth technology (see
Business Case and Clinical Case below).
Before selecting any vendor, you need to have a clear understanding of how you will launch, run, and govern your
telehealth services. A strong governance is needed to ensure the success and the governance team’s input and
involvement in the vendor selection process is crucial.
It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a multidisciplinary team to launch a telehealth service properly.
You’ll need clinical input, technical input, someone who understands clinical workflows, billing expertise, and
expertise on any applicable laws, regulation, and policies.
Before you go out and look for a vendor, you need to know which of the dozens of potential telehealth services
you want to launch, as different types of services require different types of services. Unlike “Healthcare IT
Infrastructure” where solutions can be applied across all services, telehealth technology is intimately.
Telehealth is about delivering care, about practicing medicine at a distance. Telehealth is a clinical tool, not a
technical tool. Thus is it crucial that a clinical champion is identified to spearhead the development and launch of
a telemedicine services..
Each telehealth service must have a financial analysis and demonstrate alignment with the organization’s overall
strategy. In addition, the clinical side must be well understood and supported by the clinical champion.
The definition of the workflow by which the Telemedicine Service will be delivered is critical. Not only will this
greatly inform your search for a vendor (i.e., if your desired workflow is possible with the vendor’s technology) but
mapping out the process also will identify all key stakeholders and users that should have a say into the vendor
selection from the user interface and usability perspective. Once you’ve selected a vendor, you can always go back
and modify your workflow, but you want to start with your ideal workflow. Why? Because how your organization
delivers care goes to the heart of your organization’s culture. You need a vendor whose solution enables you to
deliver care in the way you want to, not how the vendor wants you to.