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The Voice of Telemedicine Series: Bryan Arkwright

This is the 3rd post in our "Voice of Telemedicine" blog series.

An opportunity for telemedicine professionals to share their experiences with telemedicine.

Today’s guest blogger is Bryan Arkwright, Senior Consultant at Schumacher Clinical Partners

About Bryan. I’m a passionate telemedicine advocate and consultant with Schumacher Clinical Partners focusing on telehealth / telemedicine strategy and operations. I am also an avid speaker on telehealth/mHealth and future healthcare and active on Twitter.

I decided to get involved with telemedicine early in my career because I was fascinated with technology and designing new and innovative processes to deliver care. It was not long before I actively chose to dedicate my career to telemedicine as an Administrator at a large Academic Medical Center and later as a Director of Telehealth at a large integrated health system. Each opportunity and consulting since then allowed me to lead, oversee, and advise others on the expansion and growth of telehealth clinical programs for hospitals and health organizations of all sizes.

What is your background?
How long have you been in telemedicine? Where is your primary focus?

I have a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University, a M.H.A. from Medical College of Virginia / VCU, and a Six Sigma Black Belt from the American Society for Quality. My healthcare experiences to date include four not-for-profit Health Systems, two Academic Medical Centers, and Consulting. I have been working with telemedicine since 2006 and my primary focus is on assessing, designing, and implementing telemedicine programs.

What motivated you to start getting into telemedicine?
A problem arose at a health system I was working at and we researched potential solutions, the one we decided on was telemedicine oriented. I had fun with the project and it wasn’t long before I had the opportunity to work with another telemedicine related project.

How has telemedicine changed in the last year?
The biggest change I see is two-fold, there’s more of it in new markets due to the fast paced growth. And second, there’s a growing awareness of what telemedicine is and how and where to access it.

Where do you see the telemedicine market 1 year from now?
One year from now I’m hopeful the empirical foundation of telemedicine value will have expanded further and the healthcare industry will take more action towards new and proven designs/implementations.

From your POV, how do patients like meeting with doctors by telemedicine?
The programs I’ve been involved with include a patient survey component and time and time again we see overwhelming satisfaction. We’ve seen statements around the experience being “better than in person”, “doctor paid more attention to me”, “eye contact was fantastic”, “I felt like I was in the future”, and more.

What do doctors find most valuable about telemedicine?
This can vary doctor to doctor, but the value I hear most from doctors is related to giving more convenience and choice to their patients, improving their patient’s care experience, serving underserved areas, and helping to bring innovation and new efficiencies to their status quo operations.

Do you have any insightful, interesting, funny, or notable experiences from your tenure in the telemedicine space?
My notable experience is serving as a telemedicine patient myself. I came down with a bad cold, but being new to the area it was hard to get into a doctor unless I was willing to wait 1-2 weeks or more. I chose a regional provider who I knew had recently launched a telemedicine program and within minutes I was in a consult; shortly after that my newly prescribed antibiotic was waiting for me at a local pharmacy. The total time from my decision to have a telemedicine consult to when I was back in my house and on the couch having taken the first dosage was 45 minutes. Compare this to every experience I’ve ever had with visiting the doctor and it was much, much better. I was always a telemedicine advocate but this moment made it that much more real. My family and I have had telemedicine visits since then for different things, and each time we were pleased with our experience.

What challenges have you seen doctor’s experience with telemedicine? How did they overcome them?
The obstacle and challenge I see the most is related to process. Either a poor process has been designed and implemented for the telemedicine initiative or process was left completely out of the due diligence and planning. Training and education is also critical to implementing a well-designed telemedicine process. Doctors overcome the process, training, and education pitfalls by understanding the current processes and status quo operations and then taking a team approach with key staff/stakeholders to design and implement the process for using telemedicine.

What advice would you give to other healthcare providers interested in starting telemedicine?
Do it! Seriously though, find a partner you can trust who has experience designing and implementing successful telemedicine programs. Next, have an open conversation about your organization’s current operations and any problems/issues that impact your patients and fellow providers. Lastly, seek to understand how a telemedicine initiative would work, step by step, and how it would impact your patients and fellow providers in a positive and manageable way.

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