Potential barriers to telehealth
While telehealth is becoming more common and accepted, there are still some potential barriers to its widespread adoption.
- As telehealth technology advances, the solutions are becoming much more diverse and affordable. However, many first-time solutions do still require purchase, set-up, and training which may not necessarily be in budget for smaller practices. However, telehealth app/cloud-based platforms are coming increasingly common and are much more affordable.
- It’s important to remember that whilst much of the population now has internet access and owns a smartphone, tablet, desktop or laptop, there are still those who don’t. Much of the older population may not feel comfortable using this kind of technology and will still prefer to visit their physician in person.
- Lack of awareness is an issue in the adoption of telehealth solutions. Patients need educating in how video appointments work, how easy they are to use and when they should be used.
- People are becoming more aware of data privacy and security and want assurance their information is being kept secure. It’s important to make sure they’re aware the solution in place is as secure as possible.
- Some countries (e.g. America) have legislations that can restrict telehealth services and reimbursement rates. However, the majority of states have now passed telehealth laws.
Many of these barriers are something that naturally changes over time as telehealth solutions become more common. However, it’s still important to seamlessly introduce a telehealth solution by making patients aware it’s an option, and educate them on its simplicity, security and benefits.
Key considerations when purchasing a telehealth solution
When implementing a telehealth solution that patients and clinicians will trust and want to use takes planning. There’s a lot to consider to ensure the introduction of the platform runs as seamlessly as possible and gets maximum usage. Some things to consider are:
Experience – The success of a telehealth solution depends on a patients’ willingness to use it. They need to be made aware of how easy the platform is to use, the benefits, how secure it is and be reassured that the level of care will remain high.
Simplicity – Healthcare professionals are very busy, and learning to use a new platform can often be time-consuming. It’s worth looking for a solution that is designed to be simple to use and understand, increasing the likelihood of staff and patients taking the time to use and understand it.
Security – People want to be confident their medical data is secure. Make sure to always find out how secure the telehealth platform is, what security measures the provider has in place, and what security accreditations they have.
Integrations – A platform which can integrate with your current software (e.g. Skype for business), endpoints and various other medical devices (e.g. a heart rate monitor) can make the whole process run more efficiently and smoothly. Flexible integrations are particularly important is the platform is being used to communicate with patients, as they are likely to use various different endpoint devices and different video software. As telehealth is advancing, an adaptable platform that can keep up with the changes in technology is a must. Some platforms now have the ability to integrate with devices such as a Fitbit which can then allow a healthcare professional to access certain user data and even send notifications to a patient. Telehealth’s abilities are only going to continue to grow, so you need a provider that is planning on growing their platform with it.
Some providers will design/tailor their telehealth solution to meet your specific requirements. It’s important to find a provider that is not only knowledgeable on the solution software but also the healthcare and telehealth industry. That way you can be confident they are going to provide you with the best possible platform to meet your requirements and allow you to continue delivering high-quality healthcare services.