Last Updated | November 14, 2022
Executive Summary – Barriers to Telehealth Implementation
Telehealth is the future of healthcare services. While the applicability of the technology is still restricted due to various factors, we are fast moving towards a digital healthcare sector. Read on; to learn more about barriers to telehealth implementation and how healthcare services can overcome those barriers…
Introduction – Barriers to Telehealth Implementation
Telehealth is the application of telecommunication and other associated technologies in the healthcare industry. While the technology has been there for a while, it was really the covid-19 pandemic that saw rapid advancement and acceptance of telehealth as a viable and affordable healthcare solution.
Telehealth allows healthcare practitioners to deliver healthcare services remotely to patients in rural areas or even in urban settings where people aren’t willing to travel to hospitals. For patients, the technology means they no longer need to travel great distances to consult a healthcare specialist. Instead, they can connect with the best surgeons or physicians from anywhere while sitting in their homes.
Now, looking at the potential positive impacts of technology, it is only rational to believe that everything is glittery here. However, as we mentioned earlier, the technology has been around for at least a decade. However, given the various barriers to telehealth implementation, we still see only limited applications of the technology.
Below, we will exclusively be covering some of the most significant barriers to telehealth implementation while also covering potential enablers of technology and benefits healthcare organizations can reap by implementing telehealth.
So, without any further delay, let’s get started…
The barriers to implementing telehealth
– lack of broadband access
One of the biggest barriers to telehealth implementation is the lack of infrastructure and access to technology. Broadband accessibility is one impedance that significantly hinders the implementation of telehealth, especially in rural settings.
Whether we talk about IoT healthcare solutions or any medical diagnostic software, access to broadband connectivity is of utmost importance to ensure seamless operations of the solution. Even in the private sector, healthcare practitioners require stable and reliable broadband connectivity for developing a medical app for telehealth solutions.
Unfortunately, even in the United States, affordable and ubiquitous broadband internet availability is limited in various areas, especially in rural settings. There remain unexplained loopholes in broadband availability, which utterly limit the applicability of telehealth in various parts of the country. Thereby, the government needs to improve access to broadband services across the country to lower this limiting barrier to telehealth in rural areas.
– lack of reimbursement
This is yet another significant barrier to telemedicine implementation. From healthcare practitioners’ perspective, the best part about telehealth technology is that it enables them to maximize their earnings by reaching out to a large number of patients in remote settings. However, while affordable healthcare services are a USP of telehealth, the payment of services remains shady.
Reimbursement for telehealth services has remained a severely problematic area for healthcare practitioners for quite some time. That’s because reimbursement is only available for services covered under the Medicare Chronic Management Program. This means that only services delivered to patients suffering from multiple chronic health conditions are covered for reimbursement. Also, healthcare practitioners can only claim reimbursement for the services delivered to patients who suffer the chronic health conditions for at least a year or more.
To make things even worse, many telehealth services aren’t covered by private insurance companies, further complicating healthcare practitioners’ reimbursement process. Thereby, it’s essential to remove the reimbursement obstacles that significantly impede the willingness of healthcare practitioners to take up telehealth services. To overcome this issue, a telemedicine software development company can be hired to develop a dedicated platform that can track the expenses and keep documentation of the services delivered by healthcare practitioners. This will help to reduce the reimbursement issues faced by doctors and physicians and thus improve the telehealth implementation rates.
– Provide training and education
Lack of training and education make up yet another big barrier to telehealth implementation. Resistance to adopting new technology is something that we witness in every industry, and the same is true for the healthcare sector.
More than the technology, it was the internal resistance of people (doctors and patients alike) towards the technology that kept the penetration of telehealth at bay for almost a decade. In fact, if not for the covid-19 pandemic, we would still largely be just rumoring about telehealth technology; instead of using it.
Nonetheless, the key to overcoming the internal resistance of people towards change is to provide them with the necessary training and awareness about the technology. The pandemic has already fast-tracked the implementation of telehealth, forcing many healthcare practitioners to get familiarized with the technology. Now, it’s time for authorities and healthcare institutions to set up special awareness and training camps to lower the resistance of their people toward technology.
On the patient’s side, still, there remains a significant barrier to the adoption of telehealth due to a lack of training and awareness. This is especially true for elderly people who aren’t familiar with and comfortable using tech gadgets. To overcome this barrier, adopting an intuitive and simple healthcare app development strategy is essential. This will help reduce the adoption barriers for patients since they will be more comfortable using the application. Also, authorities must set up specialized awareness and training sessions to help patients familiarize themselves with telehealth technology.
Overcoming the barriers to implementing telehealth
– working with existing infrastructure
Infrastructure gaps will always be present; that’s a reality we need to accept. However, instead of worrying about the gaps and waiting for them to be bridged, the healthcare sector needs to accept them and learn to work with the existing infrastructure they have.
The key is to start the implementation of telehealth from a basic level without worrying about the infrastructure gaps. As a relatively new technology, there will be some impedances initially; however, over time, these will be lowered, and new opportunities will open as the technology advances.
– partnering with other organizations
One of the best ways to lower the technological barriers to telehealth implementation is to partner with the right technology firm. With the right technology partner, healthcare institutions can simplify the entire process of healthcare app development and lower the internal resistance against technology by introducing lively and interactive training sessions. Also, when you hire medical app developers, you get a technology partner that understands the complexities involved in the development and implementation process and takes necessary steps to minimize barriers to using telehealth solutions for patients and healthcare practitioners alike.
What are the benefits of telehealth implementation for a healthcare organization?
Well, now that we have gone through the barriers to telehealth implementation and potential solutions to overcome those barriers, let’s quickly explore the benefits of telehealth implementation for healthcare organizations.
- Imagine a world without borders (well, while we can’t achieve it politically, but we can surely achieve it for healthcare). By implementing telehealth solutions, healthcare organizations can literally obliterate any geographical obstacles to deliver quality healthcare services and improve the profitability of their practice.
- No-shows are one of the biggest reasons doctors lose revenue. However, with the latest telehealth solutions, healthcare practitioners can remain in touch with patients and send notifications and reminders for their appointments. Also, since the patients won’t have to visit physically, the number of no-shows is significantly reduced by telehealth implementation.
- Telehealth solutions also improve the overall efficiency and workflow of healthcare services. That’s because video consultation is found to take less time than in-person consultation. Thus, by switching to telehealth platforms, medical practitioners can cover more patients in less time to improve their practice efficiency and profitability
FAQs – Barriers to Telehealth Implementation
Why patients may be reluctant to use telehealth services?
One of the biggest reasons patients are reluctant to use telehealth services is their lack of awareness and training on telehealth platforms. Many technologically naïve patients, especially elders, can’t grasp the functionalities and working of telehealth platforms and thereby are reluctant to use these platforms.
What are the types of care that can be delivered via telehealth?
Some of the care types that can be delivered via telehealth platforms include:
- Consultation for lab or x-ray tests
- Mental health treatment
- Medication management
- Medical counseling
- Online therapy
- Treating recurring conditions
- Post-surgery follow-up
Manage chronic conditions like diabetes, cholesterol, and others.
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