HIMSS News

Telemedicine 2016

February 8, 2016 by John Sharp, MSSA, PMP, FHIMSS, Senior Manager, Personal Connected Health Alliance, HIMSS North America


Telemedicine has reached a tipping point in 2016. Not only are we seeing more innovative companies entering this space but more health systems are creating telehealth centers and government regulations and reimbursement are falling into place. This convergence has created unique challenges because it is new and moving fast. Telemedicine needs to be implemented in a way that limits fractured care as noted in an ONC report:

Creating a successful telehealth program requires several elements, including:

  • Defining a scope of practice – will your program include teleconsults, eVisit, telestroke, collaboration with retail pharmacies, etc.?
  • Developing a governance group – corralling programs into one governing group, limit the number of technology solutions and evaluating new requests and solutions
  • Developing training for medical professionals using telemedicine solutions

Two institutions leading in telemedicine are University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and University of Mississippi Center for Telehealth. UPMC has grown out of a strong telestroke program into a mature service offering that include international teleconsult services in pediatric intensive care. For governance, they have an Executive Telehealth Leadership team and an onboarding process for physicians who plan to provide telehealth services. They have also developed a Telehealth Maturity Model which scales from Centralized governance, standardization and scalability to Full interoperability including patient generated health data.

The University of Mississippi Center for Telehealth has a comprehensive program which serves the whole state including areas which have limited access to primary care. The Center has a centralized Telehealth Service Center which provides direct to consumer services as well as teleconsults to professionals and IT support. Services include everything from tele-emergency to mental health. They also provide live streaming professional educational services from their teleducation portal. Their Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network is showing early success in underserved areas. “This program is helping improve care coordination and strengthen connections between clinicians and patients beyond the walls of a hospital in a way that I think will reduce the use of higher acuity clinical settings, like the ER.” Says Kristi Henderson, UMMC’s chief telehealth and innovation officer.

These two telehealth programs provide much to emulate. The combination of solid governance, centralized resources and broad service offerings make them models for the future of telehealth. On February 18, noon ET, the UMMC Center for Telehealth will present their program in a HIMSS Connected Health Webinar.

About the Contributor
John Sharp, MSSA, PMP, FHIMSS, is Senior Manager, Personal Connected Health Alliance for HIMSS North America

Posted Under: Clinical Informatics