PHILADELPHIA – It already has one of the most advanced telehealth programs in the country and now Jefferson Health is further integrating technology into patient care with an upgraded platform and plans for an education and research center.
Already, JeffConnect, the health system’s telehealth program, provides care via smartphone app, tablet or computer. The program also uses virtual rounds to allow family members to participate in inpatient physician visits via video.
Recently, the health system finalized an agreement with Teladoc, a telehealth company that uses phone and videoconferencing technology to provide on-demand remote medical care, for custom software platforms to support its program.
“Jefferson Health is committed to using the right technologies that will enhance the patient experience and deliver greater value,” said Dr. Judd Hollander, associate dean for strategic health initiatives at Jefferson Health. “The technology makes the services relevant—there’s no reason why we can’t communicate with patients using the basic technology that we all use every day.”
With six colleges, nine hospitals and 34 outpatient and urgent care locations that serve millions of patients each year, Jefferson Health’s commitment to telehealth is also driving the system to establish the National Academic Center for Telehealth. The center will serve as a regional, national and international hub for innovative research and educational initiatives using technology to improve health, said Hollander.
“One of the biggest problems with telehealth is that everyone thinks it’s great, but no one can prove it,” he said. “With the NACT we plan to develop an evidence base for when and where it’s right to use telehealth.”
Hollander said the NACT will also train physicians on how to use telehealth but still remember things like the importance of eye contact when treating a patient.
“Telehealth has historically been driven largely by vendors and has lost its academic flair,” he said. “We want to figure out what works for the patients, rather than what works for the vendors.”