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Apr 08

Telehealth Adoption Challenges

When adopting any new technology resource into your practice, it is likely that you will run into challenges, resistance, or discomfort from staff. These stem from hesitations or concerns about the new system, lack of training, costs, time restraints of learning the new solution, or other opinions and problems. Medical technology, in many cases, involves training, tweaks, and many learning curves before a system fits just right for the practice. Telehealth adoption is no different, however, some of the concerns and hesitations are.

What is telehealth?

Telehealth is the ability for a healthcare professional to provide remote clinical services to patients. With telehealth services, providers may also provide non-clinical services like provider training sessions, administrative meetings, clinical education and more.

What telehealth adoption challenges exist?

As stated earlier, there are a multitude of reasons your team may be resistant to adopting telehealth. Let’s dive into some provider challenges.

Insurance Coverage

Adopting telehealth at a practice shifts the way providers and care takers at your practice deliver care. Inevitably, it also changes the way care is billed. Not all insurance companies offer telehealth coverage. Some insurances that do, do not cover it entirely or enough to benefit a patient or ensure a provider is paid accurately. (Note: This is not the case for all companies.) For many practices, adopting telehealth isn’t on the table due to the inconsistency with coverage provided across insurance platforms.

Providers should keep in mind that adopting telehealth at their practice expands their patient reach. Yes, billing for telehealth may place more responsibility on your office and patients, but it also opens the door to better access and continuity of care. As we are seeing in the early parts of 2020, telehealth is a very necessary tool in aiding the ill when risks are high. Added to this, we expect insurance coverage to be more widely expanded as we move throughout the decade.

Accessibility

Some providers remain unwilling to adopt telehealth services due to accessibility issues. A number of rural areas across the country do not have access to the high speed internet connection necessary to facilitate a virtual video visit. Patients having access to high speed internet is only part of this equation. Many patients cannot afford internet even if it accessible in their area. While overcoming the challenge of accessibility in rural communities is difficult, it is not impossible. Speak with your current patient base and discover what access to internet and technology tools they do have and what interest they have in telehealth solutions today.

Provider Insecurity

Providers today have many challenges on their shoulders – regulatory burden, documentation, competition, revenue generation, and more. When it comes to adopting a new technology that is not being enforced by the government, providers want to have security in knowing they’ll receive payment. Right now, according to HIMSS, telehealth is seen as a threat and not an opportunity by many providers. To overcome this and begin to see telehealth as an opportunity, providers need to focus on applications that are easy-to-use that promise responsive customer support. Telehealth vendors that offer training, education, and are integrated with a providers current PM or EMR system (or will be) are likely to be less disruptive to their workflow which will make providers more likely to adopt a solution.

Various other challenges to telehealth adoption:

  • Privacy and security: While telehealth is the buzz in healthcare right now, and shows no signs of slowing, it is important that providers keep privacy and security in mind. HIPAA rules still apply to telehealth services.
  • Technical support: As with any technology, there are likely to be blips, crashes, and errors that occur during a video visit. Vendors need to be cognizant of support options for both patients and providers as both may run into issues. Practices should be aware of what technical support options are available from their vendor.
  • Patient preference: While telehealth continues to be a tech trend, not all patients are on board with virtual video visits. There will continue to be push back from patients if there is not education as to why telehealth is sometimes a more suitable choice.

Is your practice currently experiencing challenges when it comes to telehealth adoption? What is preventing your providers and care team members from providing virtual video visits for your patient base? Let us know in the comments, and hopefully we can provide support.

MicroMD Virtual Video Visits powered by Medpod is available now for your practice. If you are interested in learning more, visit us here or call us at 800.624.8832.

About the author,
Savanna Adams

Savanna is the Marketing Communication Specialist at MicroMD. She schedules emails to clients, prospects, and VARs, manages social media accounts, performs research, writes blogs and eBooks, and much more while helping to support the simple yet powerful MicroMD solutions.

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