Telementoring in healthcare


An email alert I have for “chronic pain” generated a result for “telementoring.” Evidently that’s the term for virtual or remote mentoring that is used in medical care. However, unlike virtual mentoring or in fact any mentoring for entrepreneurs, the medical world takes a scientific approach. That translates into studying the efficacy of telementoring.

Telementoring is now regarded as a best practice in pain management and safe opioid prescribing according to the article Pain Management Telementoring May Cut Opioid Prescribing on the site Clinical Pain Advisor.

The researchers found that primary care clinicians participating in ECHO Pain (telementoring had greater percent declines than the comparison group in annual opioid prescriptions per patient (−23 versus −9 percent), average morphine milligram equivalents prescribed per patient/year (−28 versus −7 percent), days of coprescribed opioid and benzodiazepine per opioid user per year (−53 versus −1 percent), and number of opioid users (−20.2 versus −8 percent).

So what is telementoring, how does it benefit hospitals, and what does this have to do with mentoring of entrepreneurs?

And what problem is telementoring solving?

Today, experts estimate that all human medical knowledge doubles every 18 months. The pace of progress in surgical innovation is so fast that some surgeons have expressed serious concern about patient safety as technology diffuses throughout the real world without proper training.

Keeping your organization up with surgical innovation is imperative for growth, but surgical programs can be slow to adopt because surgeons are worried new technology may result in poor patient outcomes early in the adoption cycle. Because of these fears, some providers are seeking out telementoring.

An article provides some answers:

[telementoring] is procedural guidance of one professional by another from a distance using telecommunications, such as audio dialogue and video telestration (video tablet and pen). This valuable tool can help your surgeons and clinical teams feel comfortable adopting the latest procedures.

It’s clear that telementoring is a form of peer-to-peer education in the medical world. Surgeons are the early adopters. Telementoring reduces travel time and time away from work for the surgeon and provides expert counsel on the latest surgical procedures. Telemementoring has been embraced as a form of continuing education/training for surgeons.

The article concludes with this takeaway:

Telementoring should be on your radars as you think through how to boost adoption in your surgical service portfolio. While medical centers with access to advanced OR technology will likely lead the way, telementoring can reduce barriers to surgeon upskilling for all types of hospitals by lowering associated costs and improving surgeon comfort.

My takeaway is the telementoring could be used as a peer-to-peer training in domain specific areas critical to the success of a startup: how to get your venture investment ready; how to use social media to market your product; how to build your cap table and financial statements; and how to raise capital. Perhaps current in-person seminars for entrepreneurs could increase their reach and impact by adding telementoring. MIT Venture Mentoring Service has seminars in sales, marketing, and human resources.

However, telemarketing needs domain specific mentoring expertise and new and different guidelines for both mentors and mentees. Building up a network of telementoring experts seems like a natural extension of accelerators and incubators. This is especially true for market-specific incubators, such as focused on fintech and healthcare. A more rigorous program of both mentor selection for domain expertise and a more structured program of mentoring will differentiate telementoring from virtual mentoring.

Whatever the terminology, both mentors and founders can learn from how hospitasl and surgeons are participating in telementoring as an educational and research activity. Currently little research is done on the mentoring of entrepreneurs beyond a yearly customer satisfaction survey.  And founders may be even more hesitant than surgeons to participate in domain-specific educational virtual mentoring or telementoring be anxious about taking time away from running their startuip.

I will be adding “telementoring” to my Google Alerts list and studying up on how best practices in telementoring in the medical arena can be adopted or adapted for the virtual mentoring of entrepreneurs. In the field of virtual mentoring it appears that surgeons may be way ahead of entrepreneurs. Check out the article System for Telementoring with Augmented Reality and be sure to watch the video!




Author: Mentorphile

Mentor, coach, and advisor to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. General manager with significant experience in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Focus on media and information. On founding team of four venture-backed companies. Currently Chairman of Popsleuth, Inc., maker of the Endorfyn app for keeping fans updated on new stuff from their favorite artists.

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