Technology and Equipment
Highlights: If you are new school-based telehealth, selecting the software and hardware technology can be daunting. Often providers get deep into selecting vendors too quickly because they want to identify cost/profit up front. They may incidentally skip the needed planning work that would simplify vendor selection. Before you select a vendor or finalize a contract, we recommend that you go through the steps in the Telehealth Vendor Selection Toolkit.
Here are some key considerations for School-based Telehealth projects:
- Stationery or portable? Will the equipment stay in one room? Be moved from room to room? Or be carried from site to site? Size and portability vary greatly.
- Wifi or Wired? This answer will depend on the location of the equipment and the connectivity capacity of the school.
- Patient-operated or Presenter-operated? There are systems that are very simple, such as video-only or kiosk-style, which are intended to be operated by the patient. Others are more complex, offering additional features and require some training to use. These are the ‘Presenter-operated’ options. Consider cleaning and sanitizing between uses.
- Scope of Care? Decide first what types of care will be provided, then select equipment to match. There is no need for a derm scope if only behavioral health services are going to be provided, but earaches should not be treated without an otoscope.
- Scalability? Will the project grow beyond a pilot or trial? Can the network support multiple locations? Is the equipment affordable on a larger scale, beyond the pilot?
- EHR Integration? Some platforms integrate into existing popular electronic health records. That feature may or may not make it the best for the program in question.
- School IT? School systems have internal IT departments and sometimes outsourced network management. Engaging with the school IT is critical and should happen very early in the process of selecting equipment and platform for telehealth.