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Future of CRT: Shifting workflows, improved infrastructure, outside inspiration

Future of CRT: Shifting workflows, improved infrastructure, outside inspiration

Mark SchmelerPITTSBURGH – How might the exploding use of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic change the provision of complex rehab technology forever? Dr. Brad Dicianno and Mark Schmeler offer their takes. 

Shift workflow 

While some stakeholders are quick to point out that telehealth isn’t appropriate in every case, Dicianno and Schmeler say they’re not so sure, at least on a certain level. 

“Brad and I are confident that even in complex cases, there’s a benefit to using telehealth for screening or initial conversations,” said Schmeler, an associate professor with the University of Pittsburgh’s Rehabilitation Science and Technology Department. “Then based on that, we can determine what’s the best assessment approach. If right now, it takes two or three visits to the clinic plus a home evaluation, maybe you can get it down to one visit to the clinic. That’s something that’s still being worked out, but we’re looking at that with our therapists and physicians.” 

Dicianno, medical director at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL), added: “I see telehealth becoming a tool that we use as part of our regular clinical workflow.” 

Improve infrastructure 

Right now, a lot of telehealth systems are integrated into electronic medical records, effectively shutting out complex rehab providers that are outside of medical centers, Dicianno says. 

“If you want to include the whole team, you have to have the technology to support that model,” he said. “It needs to evolve so we’re all using something with HIPAA compliance, that’s accessible and that’s integrated into the medical record.” 

Schmeler added: “As (telehealth) becomes more mainstream, we think companies will look at developing better solutions.” 

Look to the VA for inspiration 

Because Veterans Affairs is both payer and provider, it’s more focused on patient-centered care and, therefore, has been an early adopter of telehealth, long before the COVID-19 pandemic, Schmeler says. 

“If you’re both the payer and provider you’re perhaps more motivated or willing to look at options that make the health care experience more meaningful and effective, which is a little bit of a different perspective,” he said. 


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