Healthy Challenge: An Emergency Telemedicine Consultation Provider Helps Power Physician-Patient Interactions

Article excerpt


Federal healthcare reform has presented both opportunities and challenges for medical providers.

"Hospitals are seeing decreases in their reimbursements in addition to shortages in physician specialists across the country," explains Kathleen Plath, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Specialists on Call, a Boston-based provider of emergency telemedicine consultations to community hospitals across the United States. "If a hospital can't get specialists to a patient on time, that patient ends up sitting in the emergency department [waiting] room, which negatively impacts patient satisfaction... patient safety and quality of care."


Physician workflows and hospital operations also can be affected by the strain of too much demand and not enough supply. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges Center for Workforce Studies, the nation will face a shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians and 46,000 surgeons and medical specialists over the next decade. Couple that with a U.S. Census Bureau finding that the number of Americans over the age of 65 will increase by 36 percent in the next decade, as well as the fact that one-third of physicians will retire over the next 10 years, and the stage has been set for a medical showdown.

This is where Specialists on Call steps in--supplying remote emergency telemedicine consultations to attending physicians in hospitals through videoconferencing technology supplied by Specialists. Specialists manages the entire process, from the hospital calls it fields through a contact center to scheduling and post-consultation reports triggered back to the medical facility.

"Hospitals realize the value of our service," Plath says. "The number of physicians coming out of medical school is decreasing, and [many of the] ones who are coming out.aren't able to take calls at the hospital or get to the patient within fifteen minutes."

Without a doubt, these conditions are behind Specialists' marked growth of more than 100 percent in the past year and the evolving need for a CRM system to streamline its processes.


When Specialists on Call first deployed Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 4.0 in 2009, the company counted 300 patient consultations per month. That number rose to more than 1,500 patient interactions each month when it upgraded its system last June to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. …


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