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Back in February, Penn Medicine launched what the Philadelphia-based health system called “one of the largest telehealth hubs in the country.”
With 50 full-time employees, the Center for Connected Care provides telemedicine support for patients as well as other Penn Medicine staff in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. The center includes Penn Medicine’s Home Telehealth program, which offers post-hospitalization remote monitoring to more than 160 patients in their homes each month.
Key to making a telemedicine program work is understanding the needs and expectations of patients, according to John Donohue, associate vice president of enterprise infrastructure services at Penn Medicine.
At the top of the list is quality of care, Donahue writes in Healthcare IT News. But “ranking not far behind,” he says, “is the quality of the technology and the experience. Feedback suggests that one without the other leaves the patient dissatisfied and frustrated.”
For telemedicine to meet the needs of patients, “it needs to be reliable, affordable and deliver a certain level of system performance,” Donahue says. This, he adds, means that “provider organizations are going to have to ensure that they have the right technologies in place.”
From a system performance perspective, it’s not just about speed and connectivity,” Donahue says. “It’s also about audio clarity, video resolution, lighting and motion handling. Patients will also come to expect customer service support around scheduling and technical support.”
The bottom line is that while simply launching a telemedicine initiative is admirable, patient expectations will grow quickly, according to Donahue.
“At some point, patients will expect to conduct these types of telemedicine encounters much like they access the internet today or even access Apple TV and other like services, Donahue writes. “Hospitals and health systems will have some time to tune their delivery, but those organizations that get there first will have some definitive advantages and potentially even a big part of the patient market share.”