Red Tape and Telehealth for Cost Savings

July 6, 2011
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I read my current issue of Modern Healthcare this weekend and saw a good idea for helping to cut down on the cost of some personal protective equipment (PPE) and the time needed to don and safely remove PPE when attending to a patient in isolation or with precautions.

I read my current issue of Modern Healthcare this weekend and saw a good idea for helping to cut down on the cost of some personal protective equipment (PPE) and the time needed to don and safely remove PPE when attending to a patient in isolation or with precautions.  The idea was to mark a red box outside of the door and for some communications and checks I can see this would be an effective strategy.

However, it also made me think (of course) of the power of video conferencing (telehealth) technologies that could be used to visualize and communicate with patients and avoiding the need to stand a certain distance and speak loudly into the patient’s room.  (Can you imagine the hearing impaired patient?) I”ve seen very cool video phones and then there are the tablets that could be positioned near the patient for more discreet conversations where spread of infection or disease is a concern.

So, I don’t have anything against the red tape.  It will really be useful for dietary checking to see if the patient is ready to have their tray picked up, or housekeeping asking if it is ok to enter and clean the room.  It might also be appropriate for the medical records or case management staff asking if they can come in to have papers signed or to discuss discharge plans.  Or even those pesky hospital administrator types that like to do rounds and check in on patients.  

Anyway, it isn’t a bad idea.  I just think it opens up an opportunity to look at how video conferencing between the nurses station, key departments and, perhaps, even the patient’s family.  Think about it and let me know how likely this could be in isolation rooms or those requiring PPE in the next three years.