How to progress along the telehealth maturity model
There are reasons why the healthcare industry has been conservative when it comes to the adoption of new technologies. The stakes are high and budgets are tight. Nevertheless, forward-looking healthcare organizations are enthusiastically embracing telehealth to enhance and extend the scope of patient care within their communities in a way that also supports their long-term business objectives and sustainability.
Adoption of telehealth has been varied across the healthcare industry and falls into three maturity levels. You don’t necessarily have to proceed through each level in succession. The best way to progress along your own telehealth transformation journey, however, is to first understand where you are today.
Level one is an ad-hoc telehealth solution often cobbled together to support the narrow, urgent need of a small group of clinicians and patients.
At this level of maturity, telehealth solutions tend to be implemented for, if not by, a specific department within a hospital, often funded with limited grant funding, and often outside the purview of the organization’s IT department or the organization’s administrative leadership. This may be the most exciting and honest form of telehealth as clinicians come up with a creative way to use telehealth to meet a specific need and go do it. These stand-alone solutions, however, are generally not scalable, nor interoperable with other clinical and administrative systems. Most will eventually need a re-design to be integrated into other critical systems.
The drive to progress to level two usually comes when clinicians recognize the limits of their ad hoc solutions, want IT support, and want to enhance their capabilities and integrate them with other departments to expand their usefulness and facilitate integrated workflow.