Telehealth plays an important part in providing tools for improved efficiency in modern healthcare systems. The Florida Health Information Network was established for the purpose of integrating patients’ clinical data to effectively manage medical records and increase the quality of medical care. The network implies an architectural structure that will allow physicians access to the database of organized and stored medical records. While the application of telehealth is generally associated with increased quality of care for patients, it can also improve patient outcomes and support effective management of long-term care. This essay will review the presentation focused on the activities performed by the Florida Health Network in promoting telehealth services to rural hospitals in Panhandle, Florida, and provide comments on important issues on the topic.
Promoting Telehealth Services to Rural Hospitals
Firstly, the presentation identifies historical events which favored the development of telehealth services in Florida. Defining the sources which first addressed the need in telehealth services development allows for identifying the mission and goals of the program implementation. Thus, the presentation explains that implementing programs on the development of telehealth infrastructure is connected with technological progress and the state’s initiative to improve patient care through technology. Furthermore, the goal of the exchange of electronic health records was to improve patients’ care within a regional framework. Thus, the mission of the Florida Health Information Network is to maintain an easier way of communication between healthcare providers within the Florida region and outside.
Furthermore, the presentation provides several visual schemes and diagrams which explain the mechanisms of the Florida Health Information Network. The network includes ten different regional health information organizations (RHIO) united by Florida Health Information Network” system. The system can also derive data from other healthcare systems, such as Medicaid, SHOTS, Physician Licensing, and the Department of Defense. The data from the RHIOs are organized into an Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI), in which each patient is given a unique identification number. The EMPI database allows the system to maintain accurate information about patients throughout different regional systems without repeats. One of the key characteristics of EMPI is that it can transform data from clinical sources without the need for a standardized database.
The central system developed by Florida Health Information Network also features a Record Locator Service (RLS). The RLS is a tool that allows prompt communication and information exchange between healthcare systems and providers. Using the RLS allows locating patients’ data from clinical sources without creating one standardized centralized data system. In Florida Health Information Network, authorized users request to view patients’ records, and after their authentication, the FHIN server collects the data from other RHIOs and available databases and sends them to the user. Thus, the Florida Health Information Network system’s design and elements are adapted to address the needs of modern databases, which contain a large amount of information not organized in a standardized way.
The local community plays a very important role in the Florida Health Information Network. According to Sullivan (n.d.), the Florida Health Information Network is built on the foundation of local communities. Moreover, the initiative in support of information exchange strategically targets support in developing collaborations between local healthcare providers. The network even introduced grant programs to encourage cooperation between local healthcare providers. Furthermore, the efficiency of the Florida Health Information Network depends on the stability of local providers’ broadband connections. Thus, the connectivity in the network can be disrupted by a lack of high-speed connection with providers. The situation worsens because Florida’s rural areas have limited access to broadband Internet connection. Specifically, Florida Panhandle includes the highest proportion of rural areas in the state. Therefore, Florida Health Information Network should focus on providing the necessary assistance to healthcare providers located in rural areas of the Florida Panhandle and ensure the efficient work of the database and communication system.
The primary approach to resolving the issue of low broadband connection available in the Florida Panhandle and other remote locations is establishing a support program for creating a national healthcare broadband network. The FCC Telehealth Pilot Program targets funding 85% of the dedicated broadband connection deployment costs for local healthcare providers (Sullivan, n.d.). The grant can also cover the deployment of transmission facilities and the establishment of other services for communication purposes and other spending associated with the system’s deployment. The pilot program’s goal is to provide all necessary tools for the efficient use of telehealth. In addition, the program also allows the construction of additional facilities designed for audio-visual communication with remote medical specialists. So far, the grant proposal program has received significant support and features many local collaborators, such as Florida Hospital Association, Florida State University, and Florida LambdaRail. Thus, the pilot program presents a collective effort to bring the benefits of technology and high-speed communication to allow patients to use telehealth services.
One of the program’s main objectives is to establish a connection between rural and urban healthcare providers. Rural communities often face high readmission rates and avoidable emergency visits due to lower access to healthcare services and low quality of patient care. Readmission rates negatively influence the cost of care, creating more barriers for patients. Connecting patients in rural areas to professionals from urban hospitals through telehealth can impact the cost of care and improve its quality through implementing better monitoring and communication methods, such as at-home chronic disease monitoring. Telehealth covers many health services in different areas, such as pediatrics, cardiology, oncology, and psychiatry, which are unavailable in rural hospitals.
Furthermore, telehealth will allow patients from rural areas to receive high-quality specialty care without being transferred to urban hospitals. In cases when transferring a patient from a rural area to an urban hospital can worsen his condition, telehealth can become a critical tool for best health outcomes. Lastly, the strategy suggests that after rural hospitals are connected to the Florida Health Information Network clinics, physicians in the rural area will also receive assistance from the Pilot Program.
In conclusion, this essay explored the Florida Health Network Telehealth services and determined that implementation of telehealth is especially crucial for Florida because of many rural areas in the state. Furthermore, the essay defined that the Florida Health Information Network requires the consolidation of patients’ data from all hospitals in the state. Still, its integration is troubled in rural areas, which do not have access to a broadband connection. The Florida Health Network’s initiative program to reduce the broadband connection deployment services cost for rural hospitals will address both problems. The Florida Health Information Network’s telehealth promotion will allow the completion of the EMPI and RLS systems. At the same time, it will improve the quality of patient care by introducing new services previously inaccessible in rural hospitals and reducing the cost of care.
Sullivan, C. B. (n.d.). The Florida Health Information Network promotes telehealth services to rural hospitals in Florida’s Panhandle. Agency for Health Care Administration.