Why is a Grant-Funded Telehealth Initiative Like a Space Launch?

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A grant-funded telehealth initiative has a lot in common with a space launch. Both require distinct, necessary, and sequential components and processes. The rocket booster generates tremendous energy to lift and lift the rocket through Earth’s atmosphere into Space, then safely breaks away so the rocket can fly on its own. A telehealth initiative begins with a telehealth project that must deliver infrastructure, evidence-based on proof of concept, and a baseline of the capability to successfully launch and operate a sustainable telehealth program.

The mistake many organizations make is to blur project tasks and outputs with program goals and outcomes. This often leads to never-ending rollouts, scope creep, and conflicting, changing objectives. If you already have a telehealth program that delivers a number of virtual care services, then your new grant-funded telehealth project has to “prove itself” to be allowed into the portfolio. If you have no telehealth program and want to build one starting with an initial telehealth project, consider this approach.

Before you begin, define the outputs of your telehealth project:

a) A workflow that delivers the service
b) Trained resources
c) Clearly defined telehealth tasks
d) Properly functioning telehealth tools/dashboard

e) Data and feedback from a brief, small, focused Proof of Concept

Following the Proof of Concept, assess the project outputs and determine:

a) Did you prove the concept?
b) Is this concept worthy of pursuit?
c) What worked well? What didn’t work? What is missing?
d) Can you scale the effort? What technology, resources, commitments, funding are required to scale up?
e) Will anticipated funding (reimbursement, other) cover the real costs of the service?
f) Have you changed priorities?

If the concept is worthy and the obstacles can be overcome, then you can:

a) Reconstitute or recommit the team to addressing the issues swiftly, with leadership and a sense of urgency
b) Involve a wider number of stakeholders in planning how to incorporate the new capability or service into the practice, which could include

i) Patient selection
ii) Changes to workflows, shifts, tools, performance expectations

If you have received grant funds for launching a telehealth program and could use some help, contact us here, or give us a call at 1-888-458-1275.


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