The Case for Quality in Telehealth Delivery of Care – Part 2

By Walter Panzirer, Trustee for the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and Founding Board Member, American Board of Telehealth

In my previous post on the case for quality in telehealth services, I established why the Helmsley Trust focuses on telehealth. Now, let’s look at how to maintain quality in the delivery of virtual care. I include three vital components of quality in telehealth care delivery: consistency, expertise and economic impact.

Quality Brings Consistency to Remote Care Delivery

Consistency matters in patient care delivery; patient encounters, whether in-person or virtual, must be seamless and frictionless. Without a standard approach to delivering virtual care, quality is challenged.

Quality Identifies Well-Trained Clinicians and Administrators

In a world in which technology makes many of our activities possible, some view telemedicine as a lucrative proposition. As a result, clinicians and administrators trained to meet quality standards for telehealth delivery are vital to ensuring quality remains a primary factor in any telemedicine program.

Quality Affects the Economic Impact of Physicians in All Communities

Clinicians want to work and live in communities in which clinical practices and hospitals deliver quality patient care. For example, statistics from the 2018 AMA The National Economic Impact of Physicians Report illustrate with detailed information why quality care delivery matters in any location, but especially in rural America.

Here are data on South Dakota:

  • Each dollar in direct output applied to physician services supports $1.82 in economic activity.
  • Each physician supports 11.3 average jobs and generates $1.9 million in average economic output.

In addition, a remote connection to clinical peers matters, as David Erickson, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer, Avera Health, describes in his bio. Before joining the executive team at Avera Health, Dr. Erickson was a family practitioner in Dell Rapids, S.D., where his remote consultations with medical specialists benefited him and his patients.

“To be in a rural situation and be able to immediately access a specialist in intensive care or emergency medicine is just a huge win for physicians in rural practice.”

What’s Next

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aligned with Avera eCARE® to establish the American Board of Telehealth and develop a telehealth certificate program with a curriculum that provides clinicians and administrators with the knowledge and skills to establish and implement quality telehealth services.

We’ve been working with Avera eCARE for the past decade and the establishment of ABT expands and strengthens that relationship. The CORE Concepts in Telehealth course begins this educational journey. As for the future, my hope includes repayment for telehealth services based on completion of courses in the ABT Telehealth Certificate Program.