Telehealth programs are providing health systems with a means to enhance quality care and cost-effectiveness for community members. Keeping patients in the local community, while preventing expensive patient transfers and efficiently sharing clinical expertise, has prompted organizations like one academic health system in the western United States to pursue telehealth initiatives. The Academy spoke with the organization's chief information officer and program director of telehealth on the how the health system began to create a telemedicine program upon coming together in January 2012 as an integrated system.
The organization is currently building out the capability to provide remote consults and e-visits to eventually replace many face-to-face visits. The health system is also reviewing telehealth as a service as a way to create affiliations, grow its market, and create relationships with rural providers. An initial focus was on the specialty service of telestroke, which is currently gaining significant momentum.
Implementing an enterprise EHR and standing up a well-adopted patient portal served as a foundation for the academic health system to begin its telehealth journey. The strategy was to integrate the telehealth program with the EHR and patien