Advice For Overcoming 3 Telemedicine Challenges

May 20, 2021

Though recent events have forced health care providers and patients to adopt telemedicine more quickly than they would have otherwise, the truth is that telehealth platforms have been rising in popularity for the past few years. In fact, patient adoption rate was up by 50% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period the year before.

Though many people refer to the use of telemedicine platforms as a “fad,” stats suggest otherwise. For instance, more than three-quarters of respondents of an Accelerate Health 2020 Consumer Telehealth survey said they would likely use telehealth services once the pandemic is over, and 41% said they would prefer online visits over in-person. The reasons for these numbers are simple:

  • It is convenient
  • It is safer
  • It leads to better chronic condition management
  • It results in more streamlined workflows and reduced costs
  • It results in a better patient experience

Challenges of using telemedicine in your practice

For all its benefits, telehealth does not come with its fair share of challenges. Below we explore the three that are most likely to affect your practice and what you can do to overcome them.

1. Reimbursement

Federal and state reimbursement restrictions have been cited as the number one challenge associated with telemedicine platforms. For example, in previous years Medicare would only cover the cost of telehealth visits if the patient was located in a Health Professional Shortage Area and if the virtual visit took place at an approved originating site, such as a hospital, doctor’s office, or skilled nursing facility. Moreover, reimbursement was only applicable if certain codes applied, which created only one more hurdle for providers to overcome.

Since 2020, however, Medicare and Medicaid have expanded their coverage to include telehealth options, and Congress has since allocated funds to the development and implementation of telemedicine programs. Regardless of state and federal laws, you can overcome reimbursement challenges by using technology to keep track of allowable reimbursements, receipts, and claims, and by understanding your rights.  

2. Difficulty serving rural areas

Though the expansion of telemedicine gives many hope that rurally located residents will finally have access to quality care, the reality is that the expansion only creates more issues. Rural areas often lack the infrastructure necessary for telemedicine usage, such as high-speed internet. It is also true that many people who live in rural communities distrust technology and all it can offer.

While you cannot do much about the infrastructure itself, you can encourage utilization in a few ways. For instance, you can train your staff accordingly, offer payment plans that meet patients’ unique needs, address privacy concerns head-on, and find ways to implement telehealth programs on your own.

3. Patients’ lack of technical skills

Patients’ lack of technical skills can lead to frustration and hinder the online patient experience. Before you implement any program, survey your patients to assess their familiarity with technology and get an idea of which devices they prefer. Also, have your staff train patients on devices and the platforms you plan to use so they are familiar with each before you launch.

Invest in a new kind of patient experience

It has never been a question of if you should adopt telemedicine in your practice, but when. Thanks to the pandemic, implementation sooner rather than later can give you a competitive advantage in an already competitive field. To learn how our team can help you, call us at 1-877-477-2311 today.

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