WORCESTER, Mass. – UMass Memorial Health Care’s new associate vice president of virtual medicine has taken on the task of bringing the health system’s myriad telehealth programs together.
“We need to approach this from an enterprise strategy,” said David Smith, associate vice president of virtual medicine at UMass Memorial. “Our ideal is having just one number to call to access all of our services.”
Smith took over the virtual medicine role at UMass Memorial earlier this year, after more than a decade as a senior project manager there.
UMass Memorial has been providing telehealth in one way or another for more than 10 years. Tele-ICU, video conferencing, tele-stroke, tele-GI and other offerings have slowly and steadily evolved into approximately 25 different department-level programs operating in silos.
“We questioned whether there was one standard way of delivering telehealth, but found there is no standard recipe,” he said. “Our way will be centered around one technology platform and we’ll drive everything toward that one point of access.”
Smith said UMass Memorial has chosen Avizia, a Reston, Va.-based provider of telehealth solutions, as its platform because it works well with the hospital’s existing network and electronic health records systems. It will begin implementation within the next six months and then migrate its existing programs into the new system.
“We’ll build out from there to combine access to our services,” Smith said.
Once UMass Memorial combines its existing telehealth offerings into one point-of-access program, it will explore other opportunities for remote services.
‘There’s been a general shift toward consumerism in health care,” said Smith. “We’re better able to meet those demands with telehealth.”
Telehealth has become a top priority for UMass Memorial. It has identified the biggest untapped potential of telehealth as engaging with patients in the post-acute/home setting, said Smith.
“We do a great job of taking care of patients when they’re here in the hospital, but we lose sight of them when they leave,” he said. “Telehealth removes the barriers of geography and access and can help us improve outcomes and patient satisfaction.”