mHealth masters: Saving lives with telehealth

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund
08:41 am

Alice Larson Sneed, RN, BSN, CCRN, FCCS, is a critical care nurse at Banner Health, and has been part of the health system's telehealth program since 2007. A 1991 graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, she received critical care certification for the newly recognized sub-specialty of nursing telehealth in 2009 from the AACN. Prior to joining Banner Health, she served at the Portland (Ore.) VA Medical Center, Boswell Medical Center in Sun City, Ariz., Verde Valley Medical Center and Mesa Lutheran Medical Center.

Q. What's the one promise of mHealth that will drive the most adoption over the coming year?

[See also: mHealth masters: Giving the people what they want]

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A. We’re starting to see the evolution of technologies being able to “talk” to one another. Within Banner, our EHR talks to our telehealth systems, which talks to primary care physicians’ offices, pharmacy, triage and so on. These connections can dramatically reduce unnecessary testing, provide a quality check on pharmaceutical orders and simplify the hospital admissions process. In short, mHealth will help reduce the cost of healthcare.

Q. What mHealth technology will become ubiquitous in the next 5 years? Why?

A. I see telehealth as a real game-changer for healthcare, and others are seeing the benefits as well. Providers have learned that telehealth can lead to reduced costs, reduced readmissions and reduced length of stay. Telehealth programs can also improve workflow and reduce demands on clinicians. When I was a critical care nurse at the bedside, I would have loved to have access to a physician at the touch of the button. That’s what telehealth provides to our bedside nurses.

[See also: mHealth masters: The key to success is ... the EMR?]

Telehealth isn’t just about creating efficiencies or cutting costs. Over the past few years, we’ve saved the lives of more than 2,000 patients annually who, statistically, should have died. These are the type of results that make it so rewarding to work as a nurse in telehealth. As more patients are exposed to telehealth, they’re going to begin choosing hospitals that have these types of programs in place, and providers will need to adapt to meet that need.

Q. What's the most cutting-edge application you're seeing now? What other innovations might we see in the near future?

A. For me, it’s not just about the tools and technologies; healthcare requires people, processes and technology to work together. At the Remote Operations Center at Banner where I work, we use many different types of technology, including EHRs, data from patient monitors, high-resolution cameras and audio tools, among others. By connecting the data from each of these tools, my colleagues and can spot patient trends more easily so we can alert bedside staff to immediate patient needs and identify potential complications before they become more serious.

Looking ahead, I’m most excited about the movement toward cloud-based applications to allow nurses to become even more mobile. Although we’re making a lot of progress already, cloud-based, mobile technologies would help us get data and information to move even more quickly and easily, putting the relevant information right out our fingertips so that we can be more mobile and don’t have stay behind a desk.

Q. What mHealth tool or trend will likely die out or fail?

A. Hardwired anything.

Q. What mHealth tool or trend has surprised you the most, either with its success or its failure?

A. I’ve been most surprised by the way mHealth is gathering speed and going down roads we didn’t envision 10 years ago. Technology is becoming smaller and smaller, and the tools of the trade – EKG machines, ultrasound machines,and the like – can now be reduced to an app on a doctor’s phone. This miniaturization of technology links us to other clinicians across the continent – or across the world.

Q. What's your biggest fear about mHealth? Why?

A. mHealth is making it easier for us to share information and connect care across different healthcare delivery settings, but as a longtime healthcare professional, I always want to make sure that our patients’ protected health information remains private and secure.

Q. Who's going to push mHealth "to the next level" – consumers, providers or some other party?

A. The technology is already changing, improving and becoming more widely adopted. I see both patients and providers as driving mHealth forward to the next level, along with innovative thinkers who will continue to find new ways to use technology to improve the way care is delivered.

Q. What are you working on now?

A. At Banner, we’re really seeing the value in telehealth, and we’re committed to expanding that capability into different care settings. We’ve already expanded our telehealth capabilities to TeleStroke, TelePsych and TeleWound Care, and we’re headed toward Tele OB/NICU.



[See also: mHealth masters: 50 states, 50 telemedicine laws]


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