In an excellent article for Forbes, contributor Russ Alan Prince discussed the fallibility of the human side of telemedicine, also known as “peopleware.”
Prince breaks down “peopleware” thusly:
“There are two components to “peopleware.” On one side is motivating patients to diligently use the mobile technology to monitor themselves and take corrective actions when directed by their physicians. Many physicians will attest that getting patients to listen and be responsive – to follow directions – can periodically be a very trying exercise in futility. The evolution of the technology will make some – but not all – of this conundrum vanish.
The other “peopleware” component is the physicians’ learning curve in how to provide their expertise as a core part of a telemedicine ecosystem. This includes detailing the workflows essential for a smooth running, long distance physician/patient relationship.”
While telemedicine has proven instrumental in bridging accessibility and affordability gaps in health care, technology is no substitute for quality of care. Telemedicine as a tool is only as effective as the provider who wields it. Without a strong doctor-patient relationship and thorough grasp on how to effectively incorporate this technology into existing practices, telehealth could prove more harmful than helpful.
As Wellframe CEO Jacob Sattelmair aptly noted in the article,
“When we think about digital medicine, it’s not about replacing human care, it’s about amplifying and extending human care and helping patients feel more connected and more cared for especially during periods of need.”
Telehealth has tremendous possibility and patients, doctors, investors, and lawmakers across the nation are responding accordingly. It will be up to the health care community to ensure that “peopleware”doesn’t prove the movement’s downfall.
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