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Mil Med. 1998 Aug;163(8):530-5.

Performance improvement in telemedicine: the essential elements.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC 20307-5001, USA.


Performance improvement activities in telemedicine may be placed into five categories. (1) Licensing and credentialing. Telemedicine overcomes geographical boundaries, but its reach is constrained by state laws on licensing. Some states require a state license, whereas others grant "consultation exemptions" for out-of-state physicians. Simple renewable licenses do not guarantee quality. Potential solutions include a national telemedicine license or license reciprocity laws for telemedicine. (2) Data security and privacy. Telemedicine technology raises some security concerns. Differences in reporting requirements among states complicate the issue of privacy. Storage of telemedicine consultation records may help physicians document care decisions for risk management, but conventional long-term storage may not be feasible because of cost constraints and may not be required to document the encounter appropriately. (3) Informed consent. Potential failures in security and transmission are new, and should be communicated to the patient. (4) Peer review. Peer review findings encourage thorough, accurate, and legible documentation. Results should be recorded by provider and must be available during the recredentialing process. (5) Tailored performance improvement initiatives. By using established principles and techniques, performance improvement initiatives can gather, analyze, and communicate information about the cost-effectiveness of telemedicine. These performance improvement efforts are the heart of quality management and are critical to the justification of telemedicine. Walter Reed Telemedicine has put into effect a performance improvement plan in accordance with this outline. This article describes the plan and suggests it as a model for other telemedicine programs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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