Telehealth computer features could be as basic as what's already available on a smartphone, or as sophisticated as the features offered by a top-of-the-line device. How do you, the healthcare provider, determine what sort of investment to make in this space? Read on for more clarity, or skip to the bottom of this article for a helpful chart.
In 2021, a study came out that reported 81% of patients were dissatisfied with their healthcare experience. For a human-centered caring profession, those numbers are abysmal. That does not mean practitioners do not care. The rate indicates how patients feel about the end-to-end journey of receiving health care.
In an article by the consulting group Prophet, one 2022 healthcare trend mentioned is that the digital healthcare experience will no longer be seen as separate from in-person care, but rather as a part of one connected journey. The industry is shifting from language about digital health experiences to language about human-centered care, which just happens to be taking place on a digital platform. It's not enough to ask "should I offer telehealth?" but rather "how extensive should my telehealth computer offerings be? What features should I provide?"
For every step of the journey, there will be a corresponding computer interaction. The authors of the aforementioned article, Gourdji, Schrimpf, and Aneja, go on to say "[The response] ‘There’s a device for that’ will become a strategic default, as treatments are embedded in – or at least accessible from – monitoring devices.”
The authors continue on to say:
“Digital solutions and smarter workflows that replace steps in care delivery, rather than simply automating routine steps, are also key. It’s a matter of succeeding with fewer workers, an operating model, workforce and tech portfolio that has the flexibility and scalability to deal with future growth.”Gourdji, Schrimpf, Aneja "The Healthcare Industry in 2022: What's Ahead?" https://www.prophet.com/2021/12/healthcare-2022-trends/ Accessed August 25, 2022
As the healthcare professional's ability to provide a higher level of care improves, medical computer hardware is also improving, and that especially applies in the area of telehealth. Telehealth can be broadly defined as any health service where people communicate through a computing device in order to give or receive healthcare. Advances in telehealth computing platforms are bringing about positive disruption to improve patient journeys.
Newly placed telehealth kiosks in Florida by Advent Health enable patients to insert a prescription receipt in a kiosk and it will then dispense the medication on the spot. Patients can skip a long pharmacy line and pick up their prescriptions at the kiosks in doctor’s offices. This is just one example where “There's a device for that” is revolutionizing the healthcare experience.
As a medical computer manufacturer and provider, Teguar thought it would be helpful to point out what features are most important at various digital endpoints of the telehealth experience. This will help the right device be chosen at each step of the journey.
The first device considered is usually a personal device. If discussion between patient and provider is all that is needed, then any computing device with internet, sound and video capabilities, and adequate security is all that is needed. A mobile phone, tablet, or PC works well for telehealth visits with common conditions requiring no lab tests or visual diagnostic inspection. As far as incorporating the BYOD to greater healthcare, that is another matter.
A recent study was completed by Karger about the benefits and drawbacks of the BYOD option throughout stages of healthcare. The summary of the article concludes that the BYOD option has potential to be more user friendly, but there are technical, operational, regulatory, and ethical challenges to overcome. Operational and ethical challenges may be easier to overcome with new processes and funding for the underserved, but technical and regulatory requirements will not likely be overcome with personal devices for many digital telehealth endpoints.
With the patient journey in mind, medical IT purchasing staff should have goals in line with the whole of operational healthcare such as reducing on-site infections, improving diagnostic accuracy, interoperability platforms, meeting regulatory requirements, and improving patient experience. These patient care goals should inform what features need to be on telehealth hardware platforms, where at any given digital endpoint a computer is needed. BYOD strategies cannot deliver the computer features needed to meet better care standards in most instances.
Telehealth providers need to match computer hardware features to specific health journey digital endpoints. Below is a guide to considering what features are important at each telehealth endpoint. Having the right features at the right stage will improve the journey for patients and their healthcare providers.
Features to Consider by Type of Telemedicine Computer
|Feature Consideration Needed||BYOB Computer||Medical Tablet PC||Medical Kiosk Computers||Bedside Terminals||Medical Cart Computer||Surgical Suite|
|Can be 60601-1 4th Ed Certified||+||+||+||+||+|
|OS Platform Hardware Architecture Needs||+||+||+||+||+|
|GPU and/or VPU Needs||+||+|
|Video / Display|
|Screen Cleaning Needs||+||+||+||+||+|
|Screen Light Transmission||+||+||+||+|
|High Resolution Screen||+||+||+|
|DICOM Ready Screen||+|
|Camera, Mic, Speakers||+||+||+||+||+||+|
|Aesthetics / Bezel Material||+||+||+||+||+|
|Weight of Computer||+||+||+|
|Battery Length/ Swappable||+||+||+||+|
|Bio Scan Capability||+|
|Physical Locking Device||+||+||+||+|
|U.S. Based RMA Support||+||+||+||+||+|