Scaling Telehealth Programs: Lessons from Early Adopters
The Commonwealth Fund is a non-profit organization established in 1918 to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency. To support this mission, The Commonwealth Funds supports independent research across a broad spectrum of healthcare issues. As part of an ongoing series the Fund this week released its latest report looking at case studies in telehealth adoption. Scaling Telehealth Programs: Lessons from Early Adopters looks at findings from three early telehealth adopters – the Veterans Health Administration, Partners HealthCare and Centura Health at Home.
The brief concludes use of remote patient monitoring (RPM), also referred to as telehealth, telehomecare, and telemonitoring, can help address and solve critical challenges in care coordination. Specific outcomes of using telehealth include:
- Reducing hospitalizations and readmissions
- Reducing health care costs
- Improving patient knowledge, satisfaction, and clinical outcomes
- Getting patients more actively engaged in their own health and care.
Still, despite these benefit, telehealth technology is still in early stages of adoption by providers. According to the brief, the lessons learned from these three early adopters of telehealth programs include:
- Promote a culture of openness and preparedness
- Utilize a multidisciplinary team approach to program implementation
- Provide leadership support and identify telehealth champions
- Understand the positive impact of telehealth data among motivated clinicians and patients
- Minimize patient enrollment barriers
- Incorporate patient experience and staff satisfaction evalutions
- Recognize successful programs take time to scale
To this last point, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is the most notable case study of a home telehealth program taken to scale. According to the brief the:
VHA piloted, evaluated, and deployed home telehealth in a continuing process of learning and improvement, and found that an enterprise-wide implementation can be achieved and can lead to costeffective, quality outcomes for chronic care patients. The organization’s Care Coordination/Home Telehealth (CCHT) program uses Group Health’s Chronic Care Model as a framework, with the patient’s home the preferred site of care wherever possible and appropriate. Promoting patient activation and self-management has been key to CCHT’s success in preventing unnecessary hospital admissions or emergency department visits.