Telehealth services have expanded tremendously since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. More places than ever have telehealth services at some level, and some practices are entirely virtual. The expansion of telehealth provides improved access to healthcare for millions of people who might otherwise have difficulty connecting with clinicians.
Despite the giant steps forward and continuously developing progresses, telehealth could be better for many clinicians and patients. Several hurdles still should be addressed as time passes, but for now, some can be worked around to better serve you and your patients.
We will look at the biggest challenges facing telehealth and what can be done to fix them.
Current Telehealth Challenges
Several issues impact delivery and access to telehealth services, but you can solve some challenges immediately in your practice.
The most common telehealth users are typically older and upper-middle. While more people using this system is excellent for the continued longevity and expansion of virtual healthcare, telehealth can provide significant value to all people, particularly those in rural communities.
People in rural communities and those with lower income brackets can benefit from having access to virtual healthcare. You can advertise your services in areas that otherwise might not be aware of telehealth services. Many community centers also act as healthcare service hubs and can provide community members with rooms to meet virtually with their doctors.
Likewise, simply increasing awareness through marketing is a great way to break down barriers to accessing healthcare. A robust telehealth platform like ViTel will have integrated marketing strategies to help you connect with patients and help patients connect with clinicians— it's a win-win!
HIPAA Compliance & Security
Transmitting confidential medical information safely is one of the chief concerns when providing virtual healthcare. While nothing stops you from setting up a webcam and offering virtual visits, this is in no way guaranteed to be safe for you or your patients. The best bet to ensure HIPAA compliance and data safety is to partner with a telehealth platform with powerful security for transmitting, storing, and receiving data. This is the best way to ensure that everything in your patients' medical histories are safe and sound.
Whether you're adding a virtual component or your practice is entirely online, you need to be able to scale to meet the needs of patients. You can add more patients than you're typically used to seeing, which can happen relatively quickly as you move into virtual healthcare. If you cannot scale billing, patient intake, scheduling, and office protocols required, you will quickly be overwhelmed, understaffed, and underperforming.
Again, this is an area where an established Telehealth platform like ViTel can help you assess and understand the needs of your business as it increases in size, helping you with billing, record keeping, and even hiring staff to fill administrative roles for your practice.
One of the biggest challenges is how clinicians get reimbursed through Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial insurance payers for telehealth services. Previously, CMS would not pay for virtual services, unless the clinician and patient met several requirements that many saw as prohibitive, but the pandemic forced CMS’s hand to relax many of the difficult requirements. While this is great for patients using these programs, it has also greatly improved the clinicians ability to treat and manage more patients. Many clinicians still are not completely aware of changes in healthcare delivery using telehealth and more education needs to be shared.
Telehealth is approved by CMS (Medicare & Medicaid), and commercial payers. During the pandemic, CMS allowed physicians to practice over state lines, and this may or may not continue after May 11, 2023, when the pandemic emergency ends. However, today, telehealth is fully accepted and reimbursed, and does not need legislation passed to continue.
Building a Telehealth Future, While Beating Challenges Now
As telehealth improves, there will be new challenges, but you can tackle some current issues in various ways. Many struggles you might experience providing virtual healthcare for your patients can be solved by having a powerful telehealth platform like ViTel as your partner.
ViTel can provide the scalable utilities needed to bring your virtual practice from an accessory to a full-scale business model. Whether you're looking to add virtual visits to your current medical practice or simply looking for some side income by doing virtual consultations - in addition to your regular practice or creating something wholly online from the ground up - ViTel has you covered.
Our systems can help with patient data storage, marketing, medical supply ordering, hiring and onboarding, physician credentialing, and more. If you have a need, ViTel has a solution. Contact us today for a demo to see the answers ViTel has to your telehealth problems!