By Russ Alan Prince, Forbes, Contributor — I write about the creation and management of exceptional wealth. Note; Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
FEBRUARY 10, 2015 – There are individuals, family offices, and private equity funds that are heavily investing in telemedicine devices – hardware and software – that will enable physicians to diagnose, monitor, and even treat patients in distant locations. For a multitude of excellent reasons, they see the future of telemedicine to be foundational to the future of healthcare delivery.
A major complication to the effectiveness of telemedicine is weaknesses in the human side of the process. It’s the functioning systems and processes – the “peopleware” – that will enable physicians to use the technology to expertly meet the needs of their patients.
FORBES: ‘Concierge medicine is a healthcare delivery approach that will be embraced by a percentage of patients. In some respects, it will be a testing ground for new technologies.’
There are two components to “peopleware.” On one side is motivating patients to diligently use the mobile technology to monitor themselves and take corrective actions when directed by their physicians. Many physicians will attest that getting patients to listen and be responsive – to follow directions – can periodically be a very trying exercise in futility. The evolution of the technology will make some – but not all – of this conundrum vanish.
The other “peopleware” component is the physicians’ learning curve in how to provide their expertise as a core part of a telemedicine ecosystem. This includes detailing the workflows essential for a smooth running, long distance physician/patient relationship.
With a tremendous amount of attention being paid to developing amazing devices, “peopleware” in this environment is being addressed by a growing number of concierge healthcare practices as well as various medical institutions. According to Daniel Carlin, M.D., president of WorldClinic and a leader in the industry, “The point of failure for most device based solutions is usually over reliance on technology. The key to success is to lead with the doctor/patient relationship; it must be enduring, caring and based in trust and compassion. The devices, when tied to a physician, provide ongoing, useful data for diagnosis and treatment, resulting in better care.”
Wellframe CEO Jacob Sattelmair spoke at the Digital Healthcare Summit in Boston and said, “When we think about digital medicine, it’s not about replacing human care, it’s about amplifying and extending human care and helping patients feel more connected and more cared for especially during periods of need.”
The world of elite concierge medicine is an excellent environment for the refinement of devices but, more critically, to the development of the “peopleware.” The lessons learned here would be able to be leveraged as the benefits of telemedicine are rolled out to everyone.