Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the telehealth industry has seen massive growth over the past two years. While this growth was both necessary and beneficial for medical professionals and patients alike, it has also led to several significant challenges within the telehealth industry that will need to be carefully addressed going forward. If you happen to operate a hospital, clinic, or private practice, please continue reading to better understand the telehealth problems you’ll likely need to addressand the best ways to go about addressing them.
What are the Top Most Common Telehealth Challenges?
The following is a selection of the most common telehealth challenges that healthcare providers frequently encounter during their efforts to engage with and treat patients through remote telehealth services. These are the issues that all telehealth providers need to understand in detail to provide their patients with the best remote medical services possible.
Poor Internet Connection
When treating patients remotely, the most significant and common issue that telehealth providers are likely to encounter centers around poor internet connectivity. This particular challenge can result in missed or interrupted appointments, dropped calls, and massive amounts of frustration on the part of both medical providers and patients alike. A reliable, high-speed internet connection is considered an essential requirement for most telehealth applications to work. However, internet coverage is not widely available in many locations, which presents a significant barrier for many patients.
Telemedicine service coverage and reimbursement is another major challenge within the telehealth industry. This problem exists because there is no guaranteed payment parity between telemedicine and in-person healthcare options. Though several states possess payment parity laws, there are no institutions in place to enforce them, potentially defeating the entire purpose of using telemedicine to reduce costs and expand services.
The cost of customer acquisition is currently one of the most significant obstacles for telemedicine, despite the telehealth field’s considerable growth over the past few years. Many healthcare service providers are concerned they won’t be able to make a profit due to lowered treatment and consultation costs, leading to significant financial losses.
The lack of a formal organizational structure is yet another challenge to telemedicine, primarily caused by an absence of collaboration between stakeholders and the under-preparedness of the telehealth industry to expand as needed. This has served to significantly bottleneck the development and advancement of more effective telehealth services.
Misdiagnosis is the telehealth obstacle that patients are most concerned with, as virtual doctors may not diagnose their symptoms accurately. Not only can this put a patient’s health in potential danger, but it can also lead to unnecessary drive-up and prescription costs.
New security measures are necessary within the telehealth field to ensure that confidential patient information remains protected. This will require a more significant amount of cooperation between various healthcare providers and IT departments to ensure that proper securities are built into the technology platform
Substantial technical support will be needed to ensure telehealth services can operate effectively, but this kind of support is severely limited in remote and rural areas. This presents yet another barrier for many individuals looking to receive telemedicine services.
Many providers have dealt with poor-resolution video connections with patients, which is not optimal for healthcare applications. Telemedicine providers will need to work diligently to acquire more suitable equipment to treat their patients remotely, such as quality digital video cameras with solid connectivity. However, this will be an expensive undertaking.
Provider Retention in Rural Areas
Many rural doctors feel disconnected from their practice, leading several to leave and look for practices in more urban areas. While evidence has suggested this can be helped by introducing telehealth learning networks to connect rural doctors with their city-based peers, this will be a relatively expensive undertaking to help ensure doctors choose to remain in more remote locations.
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How to Overcome These Challenges
While barriers to the telehealth services above are significant and will take a lot of time, effort, and funding to address going forward, there are ways that they can be overcome. The following are several solutions that should be utilized to ensure patients are provided with the quality remote telemedicine services they deserve.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently declared that funding for broadband internet services is critical for the future of the healthcare industry concerning telehealth services, and efforts are now being made to provide reliable broadband networking services to more rural areas.
To ensure that telemedicine will provide a reliable revenue stream for medical providers, policies and regulations regarding telehealth reimbursement will need to be put in place. Many providers within the medical field have begun lobbying for more favorable payment policies to be enacted into law.
Doctors’ use of electronic health records (EHR) can help improve diagnostic accuracy while reducing the probability of patient misdiagnosis in the telehealth field. They can also help speed up the patient treatment process when used effectively.
Healthcare organizations need to start providing practical telemedicine training to their medical professionals to ensure that they provide patients with the most effective services possible. This training should include information on operating telemedicine equipment and the ever-changing technological advancements that will develop within the field.
Telehealth solutions should help healthcare providers better monitor patients both during and after treatment, which should help reduce rates of hospital readmissions while also helping patients to put more trust in the virtual healthcare industry.
Final Thoughts on Telehealth Challenges
Healthcare providers must take care to offer their patients the best telehealth services possible by addressing the range of issues listed above, especially as the world continues to grow ever more reliant on their services in the face of Covid-19. If you’d like to discover even more information on what you can do to provide your patients with the best digital care possible, please consider checking out their range of expert resources and top-quality services proudly provided by the clinical professionals at Visaya today.
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