Impact of telemedicine in hospital culture and its consequences on quality of care and safety.

Publication Date: 
Jan 14, 2016

OBJECTIVE: To describe the impact of the telemedicine application on the clinical process of care and its different effects on hospital culture and healthcare practice.

METHODS: The concept of telemedicine through real time audio-visual coverage was implemented at two different hospitals in São Paulo: a secondary and public hospital, Hospital Municipal Dr. Moysés Deutsch, and a tertiary and private hospital, Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein.

RESULTS: Data were obtained from 257 teleconsultations records over a 12-month period and were compared to a similar period before telemedicine implementation. For 18 patients (7.1%) telemedicine consultation influenced in diagnosis conclusion, and for 239 patients (92.9%), the consultation contributed to clinical management. After telemedicine implementation, stroke thrombolysis protocol was applied in 11% of ischemic stroke patients. Telemedicine approach reduced the need to transfer the patient to another hospital in 25.9% regarding neurological evaluation. Sepsis protocol were adopted and lead to a 30.4% reduction mortality regarding severe sepsis.

CONCLUSION: The application is associated with differences in the use of health services: emergency transfers, mortality, implementation of protocols and patient management decisions, especially regarding thrombolysis. These results highlight the role of telemedicine as a vector for transformation of hospital culture impacting on the safety and quality of care.