One change all hospitals need to make now: Virtual rounds and virtual discharge

It’s a grey, humid, and drizzly day outside, but Dr. Stephen Klasko had all the power and light we needed on the first day of CONVERGE. The President and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and TJUH System had so many compelling ideas about how to improve healthcare that it was hard to keep track of […]

It’s a grey, humid, and drizzly day outside, but Dr. Stephen Klasko had all the power and light we needed on the first day of CONVERGE. The President and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and TJUH System had so many compelling ideas about how to improve healthcare that it was hard to keep track of all of them.

He took a retrospective view on healthcare, as if he were looking back on 2014 from a 2024 perspective. He talked about who had survived and why. He also talked about changes that TJUH is making right now to make sure physician education meets 21st century needs and to make sure hospitals are making healthcare work for patients.

One improvement set for 2015 for this healthcare system is virutal rounds. Klasko talked about how telemedicine has become central to how TJUH delivers care. The next step in this transformation is making this technology part of physician rounds. There is nothing more frustrating than having to sit at a family member’s bed side and hope – with all fingers crossed that the doctor comes by while you are there. You can hope that your father or mother or spouse or friend remembers what the doctor said, if you can’t be there, but that is an extremely iffy proposition.

Klasko showed a slide of an iPad at the bedside and talked about having a video conference with not only family members but family physicians. (Start the video at 29:53 to hear this part of the talk)

“We are going to use bedside telehealth to convene a multi-party meeting to talk about the patient’s care,” he said.

What could be better than that? This change would take so much stress and anxiety out of caregiving. You can’t overestimate being able to hear incredibly important information about a patient’s condition straight from the doctor. And how better to get a primary care doc up to speed quickly about a patient that she will be seeing again very soon?

And don’t even get me started on the benefits of a virtual discharge process.

If hospitals want patients to be more engaged in their own care and to get family members engaged too, creating a virtual rounding process should be at the top of the priority list.