Tips to Address Common Telehealth Challenges
Streamline telehealth implementation at your practice by understanding potential roadblocks.
Practices that offer telehealth visits may see benefits for both physicians and patients, including increased patient volume, convenience and continuity of care when your office is closed.
However, just like with the adoption of any other new technology or way of doing things, telehealth implementation is not always easy, and can present challenges for patients and physicians alike.
Here are some common telehealth challenges, and tips for trying to mitigate them.
Telehealth Challenge #1: Image and Video Quality
Depending on the nature of the visit, the quality of the video or photo can impact the efficacy of a telehealth appointment. Dermatologists, for example, need a clear image to evaluate a lesion or other skin condition. To examine the throat and mouth, otolaryngologists need the patient to show a well-lit, high resolution video of the oral cavity. Plastic surgeons doing virtual follow-ups the day after a procedure need a close, detailed view of the surgical site.
These types of virtual visits may be difficult with video chat software that isn’t telehealth-specific. Most common video chat programs weren’t designed with physicians’ needs in mind, so picture quality is not of the utmost priority and your mileage may vary. If you simply need to interact with patients, you may be able to just use generic video chat software for telehealth. But if you want to address more complex patient concerns, you may want to reconsider your options.
During your practice’s telehealth implementation process, look for telehealth software created by physicians, for physicians. Practitioners understand the importance of being able to clearly examine your patients and the value of telehealth tools that facilitate meaningful virtual visits. Telehealth software that offers and prioritizes high-resolution image and video quality may help you expand the types of conditions you can evaluate virtually.
Telehealth software that can be used on a mobile device may also contribute positively to video quality. Back-facing cameras on smartphones tend to offer high resolution images and video, especially when used with the flash on. The small size of mobile devices make it easier for patients to focus the camera directly on the location of their concern or show different angles, either by themselves or with the help of someone else at home.
While telehealth software can’t entirely replicate the quality of in-person exams, tools that are built to maximize image quality and camera mobility come the closest.
Telehealth Challenge #2: Patient Engagement
As your practice pursues telehealth implementation, here is something important to keep in mind: humans are creatures of habit, and not everyone embraces change with open arms. In other words, a challenge you may face with telehealth is getting your patients on board.
If your patients aren’t rushing to make telehealth appointments with you, it may be because they’re unfamiliar with virtual visits. A study on US healthcare needs and attitudes showed only a quarter of respondents had experience with telehealth. Another hurdle is awareness; the same study revealed that less than half of the respondents knew they had access to telehealth services, and 35% answered that they were unsure.
This study comes with good news as well: 59% of respondents said they were more likely to use telehealth now than previously, and 36% said they would even switch physicians to have access to virtual care.
With patient attitudes shifting positively toward accepting telehealth, your practice can help increase awareness of telehealth services and its benefits through patient engagement.
Here are some tools and tips that will help your patients get more comfortable with using telehealth:
- Inform patients about your telehealth offerings through phone calls, emails, your website or social media. Your telehealth service provider may have templates you can use.
- Send patients instructions for downloading, launching and using the telehealth software. Ask your telehealth service provider if they have any online guide or videos for patients.
- Enable self-scheduling tools to let patients make an appointment at their own convenience.
- Use automated messaging tools to send calls, texts and emails reminding patients of their upcoming telehealth appointments.
- Provide patients with an online portal to update their demographics, medical history and current medications before their virtual visit.
- Offer patients an opportunity to fill out a survey after their telehealth appointment so your practice can learn how to improve the virtual experience.
Keeping your patients informed and engaged can help grow their interest in telehealth and increase the number of telehealth appointments.
Telehealth Challenge #3: EHR Integration
Telehealth implementation can come with a major challenge for physicians that want to make virtual visits an important part of their practice.
A video chat program or telehealth solution that doesn’t integrate with your electronic health records (EHR) system can complicate your workflows if you don’t take detailed notes during the visit. Issues that may occur include duplicate records, delayed or rejected insurance claims and physician frustration and fatigue.
A telehealth-enabled EHR can help overcome this challenge by allowing you to seamlessly document the visit while the telehealth appointment is ongoing, saving you time, keeping you organized and improving coding accuracy.
Modern EHR systems are mobile and cloud-based, making telehealth even more convenient. A touch-based EHR that works from your iPad lets you tap your way through the visit while the video streams on your PC, and having information stored on the cloud means you can access it from anywhere in the world, including on the road, at a conference or at home.
You can visit this website to learn more about how telehealth software integrated with an all-in-one EHR solution can help benefit your practice and your patients, and help you overcome these common telehealth challenges.
This blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or medical advice. Please consult with your legal counsel and other qualified advisors to ensure compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and standards. It is each provider’s responsibility to determine that any telemedicine visit meets medical necessity for a given patient. Not all clinical scenarios may be appropriate for telemedicine visits, and the provider may need to evaluate the patient in person to establish a diagnosis or initiate treatment.