In a previous note, I raised the question about whether pathologists need to be physically located in close proximity to hospital patients to facilitate consultations with the clinicians caring for patients (see: Do Clinical Pathologists Need to Be Located in Close Proximity to Hospital Patients?). I further suggested that there was a need in hospitals for a teleconsultation app that would make it easy for clinicians to launch a short audio + video conversation with a pathologist. The use of such an app, of course, would not be restricted to pathologists but could be used by any specialist in a hospital including, of course, radiologists. Below is a quote from that note:
...[T]he question at hand is not whether clinical pathologists...should be consulted via telepresence by clinicians when needed. The most important factor is whether the pathology leadership and the hospital executives have an interest in deploying the technology necessary to enable the broad use of telepresence for hospital consultations. By the way, such changes are not solely relevant for clinical pathologists but all consultations that occur daily in an academic medical center, even for physicians who may be a short stroll way from the inpatient beds.
Why would a teleconsultation app be necessary for hospital physicians? Would it not be possible for physicians caring for a hospitalized patient to, say, merely make a phone call to the pathologist or even send an instant message? Here is a list of features that I think would make such an app useful in a hospital setting in lieu of a phone conversation or an IM:
- Rapid and easy access to the EHR as well as pathology and radiology reports and images located in the LIS, RIS, or PACS so that the consultant and inquiring clinicians could simultaneously view the same data.
- Some sort of system so that the hospital consultants could enter their availability at any time and also the names of other specialists who could be contacted with a question in their absence.
- A system for assigning the "degree of urgency" of a consultation request so that the requesting physician could break through a "busy" status of a specialist in case of an emergency.
I am particularly interested in this teleconsultation app with regard to inquiries to pathologists and radiologists. I have the impression that pathology and radiology reports may sometimes be ambiguous and prompt questions is the minds of the clinician receiving the report. However, contacting the pathologist and radiologist may be viewed as too time-consuming. The quality of communication might improve with an app to reduce the "friction" of making such an inquiry. In short, I want to break down the barriers that impede optimal communications between clinicians and their diagnostician colleagues.