By Ed Simcox, Healthcare Practice Leader for Logicalis

I mentioned the need for strong telehealth governance in another recent blog post.  In this post, I want to expand on the importance of governance and implementation.

To make a telehealth program successful and sustainable, we need to select and assemble two groups of people: (1) a governance team and (2) an implementation team. Both teams are important to guide the design, implementation, support and evolution of a telehealth program. While they are separate groups, membership may overlap.

Effective governance

An effective governance team needs to consist of members who represent the clinical, administrative and regulatory objectives within your organization. The governance team sponsors and supports the planning, implementation and ongoing activities necessary to begin and sustain the telehealth program. It also resolves differences, balances competing priorities, and advances the well-being of the telehealth program consistent with the overall values of your healthcare organization.

Key objectives of effective governance include:

  • Development of policy and procedure
  • Organizational buy-in and alignment
  • Prioritization of activities and projects
  • Resolution of differences and obstacles
  • Oversight of technology purchases
  • Legal and regulatory oversight
  • Adopting and enforcing technology and procedural standards

Effective, active governance is essential to building confidence among users and an organization’s leadership regarding the long-term success of the telehealth strategy.

Telehealth team members

You also need to assemble an effective telehealth implementation team.

The telehealth team needs to reflect the community of stakeholders who will use and support the program according to the guidelines laid out by your governance framework. Key members include:

Telehealth coordinator: The telehealth coordinator is the “single point of contact” to help coordinate meetings, assets, and manual telehealth visits (if applicable). He or she is responsible for the daily operations of telehealth sites and acts as the primary liaison between the telehealth team and the larger healthcare community. (Nurses make excellent telehealth coordinators. As a group they are smart, efficient, resourceful, and empathetic.)

Clinical champions: Each clinical discipline or service line represented in the telehealth program needs a clinical champion. He or she helps define the workflows and should be involved in technology evaluation and end-point selection from a clinical-usability perspective. The clinical champion should also help determine project success metrics and promote adoption of the telehealth program among peers.

IT technical lead: Communication skills are as important as technology skills for the IT technical lead. He or she acts as a liaison between the clinical and administrative team members and the IT department, or third party consultant who will implement and support the required technology. The best technical lead is someone who has a true passion for telehealth technologies (like video, workflow software, and specialized medical peripherals) and feels a sense of purpose in helping clinicians and patients.

You wouldn’t build your home without a strong foundation. Don’t try to build a telehealth program without effective governance and a strong multidisciplinary team.

I’d love to hear about your experience regarding the importance of telehealth governance and implementation teams in creating and running a successful telehealth program.

For inside information on nine key tactics for successful telehealth, download the Logicalis white paper: “How to design and implement a successful Telehealth program for your organization” at http://www.us.logicalis.com/healthcareit/telehealth-whitepaper/