No matter how clear their benefit, both technology and medicine still require the voices of champions in order to reach the public. Telehealth uses the one to practice the other remotely, via the internet and videoconferencing. Its benefits could not be clearer and yet the practice is still establishing itself in the healthcare industry. If that does not call for a champion, it is hard to imagine what does.
Telehealth champions must be more than mere cheerleaders. Their passion must be a guiding force to those who want to learn more about Telehealth. Once clients sign up and become network users, they should be able to look to a champion for mentorship. The Telehealth company itself will have management, IT and clinical associates to coordinate but a champion can be ‘the glue,’ the go-between that coordinates and facilitates communication. Champions must be willing to step into other roles, such as coach, voice of conscience or role model.
Just where do champions come from? How can you tell one when you see one? The first and most obvious candidate would be the provider itself. Any Telehealth provider would jump at the opportunity to join a network development team and become its driving force. The problem with this is the bias is obvious. Telehealth needs clinical champions, healthcare providers that get the message loud and clear.
No matter how much time and patience it may require, once a champion is acquired, you should have them for life. This is important to remember, a true lesson in quality over quantity. Physicians respond to education. The lesson you must persevere in spreading has to be about the benefits to their practice and to their patients. That’s not to say that a personal relationship won’t net results. We’ve all seen pharmaceutical representatives at the doctor’s office. They are seeking champions for their brand. They want what you want for your Telehealth service: repeat endorsements from a respected professional.
Your methods for seeking champion should differ from those of a salesman. Finding a champion is about playing a longer game, not holding hands but being there when they are needed most. Telemedicine activity does not have to turn a profit in order to be championed. It must simply play a strategic role in the organization. A potential champion might see that Telehealth enhances the organization’s image and demonstrates commitment to the community or support for the staff.
A champion may not be a physician. Nurses who have a strong rapport with physicians might bring them on board. The champion may be an administrator. That is why the use of Telehealth should still have a clear place in the organization’s business plan.
Whether you target a physician, nurse or administrator, it may be the scenario or environment that gives rise to champions. Never underestimate clinicians who are tired of the old way of doing things. Get the Telehealth conversation started with that crowd and watch the enthusiasm spread like a forest fire. As long as it’s positive, any conversation among peers in a healthcare environment is a worthy pursuit.
Existing Telehealth departments can always offer opportunities for hands-on experience, or “test drives.” Non-users can find out if the equipment actually meets their needs. Infrequent users might finally catch on. They can even “mingle” with other providers via informal video encounters.
Once champions are identified, they will need continuous motivation. The message must not die on the vine. Consider these talking points when engaging with champions:
- Telehealth will improve patient care.
- Telehealth enables providers to reach patients they may never have been able to help.
- Provider efficiency can improve.
- Telehealth can be a major part of a hospital’s business plan.
- Telehealth is beneficial to patients, providers and the entire organization