An INFRAM Assessment Creates a Clear Path for Telehealth Programs

Telehealth was gradually emerging in the U.S., hampered by reimbursement issues and patient reluctance, but then COVID-19 hit. We couldn’t have predicted the accelerated role telehealth would play in patient care during the pandemic.

According to a McKinsey report, telehealth program usage by U.S. consumers jumped from 11% to 46% in 2019. Providers are seeing 50 to 175 times more patients by telehealth than before—plus it’s estimated that up to $250 billion of US healthcare spend has the potential to be virtualized. So how does your company prepare for setting up a telehealth program? The answer is an independent INFRAM Assessment.

An INFRAM Assessment Creates A Cohesive Telehealth Program Setup

Good telehealth infrastructure cuts across several technologies that are necessary for a cohesive strategy. An INFRAM Assessment determines where your organization is on five key dimensions compared to HIMSS recommendations and peer organizations.

The INFRAM Assessment provides insights into both areas to be addressed and strengths to support operations today and in the future. The leading independent INFRAM Assessment firm develops a roadmap with the highest payoff investments, and unifies the executive team around properly supporting the organization’s goals from an IT perspective. It is a surprisingly little time commitment for the hospital staff, as the independent firm does the heavy lifting.

Steve Cummings, the lead INFRAM Executive Project Officer at Vertitech IT, said “I think we’ve come to the realization that accelerated consumer demand for care delivered via telehealth is here to stay, and so is reimbursement for virtual care. Regardless of which telehealth vendor, the solution must be supported by a solid infrastructure to provide an optimal patient and provider experience. INFRAM has proven to be a perfect tool to assess infrastructure readiness.”

How Does An INFRAM Assessment Plan for Telehealth Programs?

To support telehealth initiatives, the following discussion explores how four critical elements of telehealth readiness are brought together with an INFRAM Assessment.

1. The Network Transport Section of INFRAM

An easy to use, secure and reliable telehealth experience is necessary for patient care and provider satisfaction. So how do you ensure that your telehealth is strong and stable? It starts with network transport, getting data and video from point A to point B.

The INFRAM Assessment determines if network technology is outdated and could adversely impact your telemedicine efforts. Reasonably current network gear (less than 5 years old) with enterprise grade switches helps avoid user experience issues.

Next the INFRAM Assessment determines if network bandwidth is sufficient to support current and future data and video traffic growth, which is significant with telemedicine, across the organization’s network and the WAN.

The INFRAM team digs into network segmentation that properly secures the network and safeguards patient information. The segmentation review assesses the capability to prioritize voice and video traffic for an optimal, jitter-free user experience.

An evaluation of network management capabilities to monitor network traffic in near real-time is provided to identify and stop issues immediately before they become bigger and more expensive down the road. The reality is that cybercriminals are targeting healthcare both for the prices paid for health records on the black market as well as the fact that healthcare has paid ransomware.

2. The Wireless Mobility Section of INFRAM

Another important factor for telemedicine is your wireless coverage. The INFRAM Assessment takes a close look at your organization in terms of wireless mobility—a cornerstone for telehealth.

This includes validating wireless coverage in all locations where clinicians may deliver care via telehealth. It will also determine the wireless quality of service to prioritize traffic on the wireless network. Is there a high availability design including dual on-premises wireless controllers, light-weight Access Points, and redundancy groups? You will understand what is currently working well, what can be addressed immediately and what can be budgeted.

3. Unified Communications and Collaboration Section of INFRAM

Of course, a big part of your successful telehealth strategy depends on your ability to deploy and utilize video conferencing tools that your clinicians can rely on. It is equally important that those tools integrate into the clinician’s EMR workflow to make adoption easy and efficient for launching telehealth visits. If it isn’t easy to deploy, it won’t be widely adopted.

On the patient side, you need to ensure that the technology deployed has a “lite touch” so they don’t need to download software onto their personal devices for it to work.

Finally, the INFRAM Assessment reviews storage solutions for compliant recording and managing access to patient encounters.

4. The Security Section of INFRAM

An INFRAM Assessment identifies gaps in security that impact adherence to HIPAA compliance standards. It can also determine if you have adequate Identity and Access management tools to control and allow an identified user to access resources appropriately and at the right time. Finally, the INFRAM team checks for mobile device management tools to help optimize the performance of mobile devices that may be used during a telehealth session.

An INFRAM Assessment Guides the Strategy for Setting Up Telehealth Programs

In the end, results from multiple sections of the INFRAM Assessment are combined to create guidance for a successful and cohesive telehealth strategy. There are many “moving parts” and it can be difficult to know where exactly to begin and which investments are worthwhile.

Which existing IT resources can make the jump to a new, telehealth-centric platform? What do we need to replace? Are there user experience difficulties for patients and clinicians? Are we adequately protected against cyberattacks and ransomware? Are we compliant?

Comport has been able to raise funds to fully or partially offset the cost of an INFRAM Assessment performed by the leading INFRAM assessment firm. Please contact Geoff Bakeman, VP Healthcare to discuss how an INFRAM assessment can guide your strategy.

An independent INFRAM Assessment puts you in an excellent position to plan, implement and mature your telehealth initiatives and avoid expensive mistakes. Telehealth is here to stay and Comport is here to help along the way.

Source: Telehealth: A quarter-trillion-dollar post-COVID-19 reality?

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