Finding a Telepresence solution shouldn’t be like embarking on a wild animal hunt in Africa: exotic, exclusive and expensive. But that is what some clinicians are finding when they begin their search.
Instead of sighting a Telepresence cart that will help them manage down the cost of care, protect and maintain the health of the caregiver, and still give the patient the best possible quality outcome…they are encountering solutions that are often quite expensive, very complicated and generally impractical for widespread use.
In our previous blog, “Telemedicine: A practical solution to a global healthcare delivery problem,” we took a general look at the emerging field of telemedicine. Now it’s time to pull out the compass and chart a trip through a market saturated with solutions. This quick checklist will help the seeker qualify which Telepresence carts should be on a “must see” vendor list. Look for:
Safety certified to UL 60601.1:
- Product safety is an essential for patient and clinician use since these products are often used in conductive healthcare environments where unrestrained gasses and fluids may be present
- It is not enough for the vendor to say they are certified—look for the UL label
Easy connectivity access for peripheral devices if required:
- Whether its camera types, speaker types, microphone types or any other peripheral device, giving the remote clinician a clear audio and visual experience is essential in a care encounter
Battery powered and non-powered options:
- Does the cart give the clinician the ability to grow in utility as needs grow? Are there powered and non-powered options?
- Will old carts have to be abandoned if needs for mobility increase or is an evergreen solution possible by adding battery power?
Light weight format:
- What value is a mobile device if it is too large to be mobile or too heavy for caregivers to push? Unwieldy solutions often go unused, an expensive mistake to make
- Light weight formats make it easier for any user to move, across multiple surfaces within the care setting
- Some carts claim good ergonomics but are they really? Does it offer up to 20” height-adjustment to to ensure a comfortable computing experience, whether seated or standing?
- Look for ergonomic features like back-tilt keyboard trays, or technology built in to minimize forces required to adjust cart position, pan, tilt, and lift
- As technology changes, will the Telepresence cart adapt? Look for cart platform design which accommodates different device or computing configurations: closed notebooks with monitor (even widescreen with up to 17.3″ diagonal size), CPU and monitor, thin clients, tablets, all-in-one computers and future hardware upgrades
Strong company behind the product
- Is there access to 24/7 Customer Service with live personnel trained to answer questions and handle your requests?
- Are there Service Programs available that will help the organization maximize their Telepresence investment?
- What is their history of innovation and excellence in product design and development?
Clearly there are more elements to a quality Telepresence solution including, video technology type, network type, trained clinical users and overall clinical workflow scenarios. All good talking points for my next blog post.
Will you be attending the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) event in Baltimore in May? Find us in booth 2015. We’ll be glad to help you explore our Telepresence carts and accessories. Let us know if you want to set up an appointment in the booth.
Steve Reinecke, MT (CLS) CPHIMS
AVP of Healthcare at Ergotron