The American Telemedicine Association Conference, this year abbreviated ATA18, is the world’s largest telehealth-specific event. It brings together innovators, business professionals, and healthcare providers from a wide range of organizations including hospitals/health systems, startups, and technology companies. This year’s conference featured over 100 seminars, interactive sessions, and roundtable discussions with topics ranging from cutting-edge technology to new and existing telehealth solutions.
ATA18 offered a wealth of interesting sessions, with inevitable overlaps and conflicts in my ideal conference schedule. In the spirit of shared learning, I have compiled the key takeaways from my favorite three conference sessions.
Debriefing Difficult Telehealth Cases
Speaker: David Wheeler, Outcomes Coordinator for the Center for Telehealth at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).
Key Takeaway: In addition to reviewing MUSC’s protocol for debriefing difficult telehealth cases and telehealth-related sentinel events (events which result in the death of or serious harm to a patient), David discussed the critical role that team dynamics play in post-event debriefing. My key learning from David’s presentation was that successful debriefing sessions incorporate principles of closed loop communication throughout the conversation. In closed loop communication, team members identify new protocols or solutions that can be actualized, bring the new solution into practice, and monitor the outcome of the proposed solution.
Growing Virtual Care Within a System
Speakers: Randy Moore, President of Mercy Virtual; Deanna Larson, CEO of Avera eCARE; Matt Levi, Director of Virtual Health Services at Catholic Health Initiatives; and Gigi Sorenson, CCO of Global Med.
Key Takeaway: Panelists from this session shared their experiences from growing telehealth programs to scale at their respective organizations. While the majority of the discussion focused on justifying the return on investment of telehealth, the panel’s parting advice to the audience contributed to my key takeaways from the session. The panel explained that before picking the next telehealth project to implement, organizations should verify that 1) the proposed project addresses a larger-scale pain point in the organization (versus addressing a one-off problem); and 2) that the solution will address the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s quadruple aim. The quadruple aim works to implement solutions that improve patient experience, provider experience, and patient outcomes, while lowering the cost of care.
Finding a Balance: Innovation. Technology. Engagement.
Speakers: Wellesley Chapman, Medical Director of Innovation & Business Development at Kaiser Permanente of Washington; Jason Dinger, Chief Incubation Officer at Ascension; and Lindsay Resnick, Executive Vice President of Wunderman Health.
Key Takeaway: Panelists from this session shared lessons learned from implementing consumer-focused telehealth solutions at their respective organizations. As noted by Wellesley, the most successful consumer-focused solution removes all triage barriers between the patient and the individual/provider from whom the patient is seeking information. Chat-based telehealth solutions can be extremely successful in removing triage barriers, as patients receive an immediate and empathic response in real time.
Applying Key Takeaways & Lessons Learned to My HFA Work
Since September 2017, I have worked alongside the MedStar Telehealth Innovation Center (MTIC) team on various telehealth projects. Through each project, I’ve gained a better understanding of the key factors that help sustain and scale telehealth pilots and projects throughout multisite healthcare organizations. The sessions I attended at ATA18 complemented and advanced my understanding of scaling telehealth projects, and I will continue incorporate lessons learned into my HFA special project and MTIC team work. Furthermore, attending ATA18 gave me the priceless opportunity to network with and learn from many industry leaders in telehealth whose work I studied during the exploration phase of my fellowship.