In a forward to a book entitled Snake Oil, British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins stated, “there is no alternative medicine. There is only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t work.” This was important conceptually because it illustrated that the umbrella of Medicine (with a capital M) encompasses all that is useful in the treatment of patients. Do you remember a time when asking to use someone’s telephone meant they would bring you into their kitchen, hand you a receiver on a coiled wire and make sure you weren’t calling long-distance? Now, if you ask to borrow someone’s phone, they are more likely to reach into their pocket and hand you their portable device. However, we do not necessarily need to specify that we need to borrow a cellular phone or a landline phone — if they work, Dawkins might posit, they are all phones.

Telehealth or telemedicine is the utilization of IT or telecommunication devices to provide health care. The emphasis is on health care — not on the tool used to provide it. In other words, we do not provide stethoscope-type medical treatment. Nobody would ask if your doctor is the blood-pressure-cuff using kind of doctor. Medicine is medicine and the tools used to facilitate it, while integral and vital, do not change the overall category.

Shortly, we will discontinue the distinction between telehealth care and non-telehealth care. It will simply be viewed as a necessary and effective tool used in the usual and customary delivery of treatment to patients. If your organization is ready to embrace a strategy in which this important tool is incorporated into the care you deliver to patients, Strategic Interests can help you develop the strategy, select equipment and vendors, implement and deploy the equipment, and most of all, help your people learn to use these tools to enhance the highest quality of care.