Telemedicine presents an exciting new development in today’s healthcare, enabling patients to connect with healthcare professionals through online communication.
The benefits of telehealth during the current COVID-19 pandemic when social distancing has been an essential factor in reducing infection rates. It is also helpful for people who, due to mental or physical health conditions, cannot leave their homes and those who live in rural areas with minimal access to local healthcare.
However, despite its advantages, telemedicine is not without its challenges.
The Benefits of Telemedicine
Telemedicine has the following benefits for patients and healthcare providers:
- Increased access to quality care: Wherever patients are, they can access online medical advice, even if they live in remote areas or cannot leave their homes.
- No need to take time off work: Appointments can be made to fit around the patient’s work schedule, during a break, or after work.
- Eliminate the chance of infection: As patients do not have to spend time in a waiting room. They avoid the risk of catching a new illness from another patient or passing their condition on to someone else.
- Reduced healthcare costs: Not only can telemedicine improve medical care delivery efficiency, but it can also reduce expenses. This is because there is no need to transport patients from one location to another, and it can often keep patients out of the hospital.
- Improved patient engagement and satisfaction: It’s easy access, telemedicine makes it more convenient for users to maintain good health. Many patients prefer the flexibility and practicality of having real-time healthcare.
- Increased provider satisfaction. These are challenging and often stressful times for healthcare providers. Telemedicine can ease stress and increase job satisfaction by facilitating patient meetings. This technology can also help providers balance their work and family lives more quickly.
Telemedicine faces several challenges, such as coverage limitations, poor integration of EHR’s, lack of care continuity, etc. Here are some main battles that telemedicine is facing today and how they can be overcome.
Telemedicine Challenges and their Solutions
- Difficulties with reimbursement. In some instances, getting reimbursed for telemedicine care can be problematic for healthcare providers. Some insurance plans, such as Medicare, do offer coverage for telemedicine but with certain limitations.
Each state’s Medicaid regulations guiding services and providers are different, which adds to the complications. For example, some reimbursement regulations only apply to rural or isolated areas.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some of these regulations have been loosened, but it’s likely that some current flexibility will also end once this crisis ends. What is needed is overall reform that will guarantee that healthcare providers will get reimbursement for providing telemedicine.
Also Read This – Quick Guide for Reimbursements
- Poor integration. If a practitioner’s Electronic Health Records (EHR) system is incompatible with the telemedicine platform you’re using, this will pose problems for your records. To avoid this, practitioners require a trusted platform that easily integrates with their EHR. Then each patient’s records are appropriately documented and stored, and are updated ready for subsequent visits.
- Interrupted continuity of care:
Problems with continuity of care can arise if a patient starts a telemedicine appointment with one provider. Then the second appointment from a different provider. In such a case, the second practitioner may not have access to all the patient’s medical information. Making it difficult for her to diagnose the patient’s problem. To solve this problem, the physician should ask the patient where they previously received their telemedicine services.
- Lack of patient awareness:
Patients can only use telemedicine services if they are aware that they exist. Eight in ten large employers are currently emphasizing telehealth in their employee healthcare plans. This is a missed opportunity for physicians if patients are not aware that this is available to them. Providers need to use content marketing, social media, and email newsletters to reach their patients and get the word out. Read Telemedicine Marketing Strategies
- Patient challenges with technology:
In many cases, patients do not understand how to use telemedicine services. This can be a considerable obstacle to utilization and accessibility. To fully grasp the extent to which this affects patients, physicians can survey patients before launching telehealth services. This will allow them to find out which devices patients are most comfortable using when accessing telemedicine. Staff training should also be taken into consideration, so they can help patients who need assistance.
- Privacy concerns:
Although telemedicine is convenient, it does not come without security and privacy concerns. HIPAA’s privacy and security regulations mandate that any information gathered through telehealth services is encrypted. Healthcare providers also need to be sure that they are communicating with their patients using a secure connection. Before storing any digital healthcare information, physicians must get the permission of their patients.
- The expense of technology:
The combined cost of equipment and services needed to provide telehealth can prohibit medical practices, clinics, and hospitals. It’s essential to bear in mind that expenses can be reduced by bundling services or choosing flat-fee services, furthermore, as telemedicine services continue to grow. The costs of maintaining them may decrease.
- Access to technology:
More than 41% of Medicare patients have no access to a computer with high-speed internet, and almost the same amount of Medicare patients lacks a smartphone with a data plan. Suppose patients have access to broadband services but are not subscribing. In that case, healthcare providers can talk to them about the benefits of having access to telemedicine, such as not needing to travel, reduced wait times for an appointment, and health monitoring in the comfort of their own home.
Telemedicine is a growth area that can benefit patients and healthcare providers. To keep these services expanding. Doctors, clinicians, and other healthcare providers must ensure that their patients have as much information as possible about the telehealth services that are available to them. They can do this by offering information through their practice and online.