Challenges in Telehealth for Patients & Providers

The use of remote health services has skyrocketed during COVID-19. According to statistics, people started using such solutions up to 175 times more than before. This has led to immense telehealth market anticipation, projected to rise to $250 billion. Yet, there are several blocks to achieving it.
This article will recap the key challenges in telehealth and discuss the options to handle them.

Barriers to Using Telemedicine for Patients

From concerns about care quality to worries about data security, various factors can influence patients’ experiences. Let’s explore the main telemedicine issues people face.

Misdiagnosis or Diagnostic Errors

According to The Doctors Company, a prominent malpractice carrier, diagnostic errors are the most frequent allegations in telemedicine-related claims. The primary misdiagnosed in telemedicine cases is related to the followings:

  • Cancer (25%);
  • Stroke (20%);
  • Infection (20%);
  • Orthopedic concerns (10%).

In contrast to an in-person clinical visit, telemedicine appointments require physicians to depend on a patient’s verbal description and interpretation of their symptoms to make a diagnosis. Without the advantage of testing and hands-on physical examination, the risk of misdiagnosis, overlooking symptoms or physical cues, and prescribing inappropriate treatment is higher. It is also important to note that prescribing medication across state lines without conducting an in-person examination can be considered a criminal offense in some states. 

Challenges in Telehealth for Patients & Providers 1

Fear of The Data Breaches

Recent cyber attacks in the healthcare field have raised concerns about technology security. This fuels the second-largest information security problem and the suspicion that remote care technologies may be vulnerable.

To address these risks of telemedicine, providers focus on meeting security requirements and ensuring HIPAA compliance, which limits their software options. Software vendors know this issue and respond by investing in advanced security technologies like data encryption, access controls, and blockchain solutions. The blockchain market in healthcare is projected to reach $5,517.6 million by 2026, as it offers secure data management, billing, and claims settlement solutions.

Barriers to Using Telemedicine for Patients
Misdiagnosis or Diagnostic Errors
Telemedicine appointments require physicians to depend on a patient's verbal description and interpretation of their symptoms to make a diagnosis.
Fear of The Data Breaches
	Cyber attacks in the healthcare field have raised concerns about technology security. 
Lack of Technical Skills
Patients prefer straightforward software. Systems with excessive features lead to frustration, causing patients to seek in-person care instead.

Lack of Technical Skills

A 42% of respondents in the 2020 Sykes Americans’ Perceptions of Telehealth survey were unfamiliar with telehealth. It is considering the limited access and acknowledgment before the pandemic. Previously, many states required physicians’ physical visits, and telemedicine for prescribing controlled drugs was not widely known. Low digital literacy, particularly among older people, further contributed to the challenges of telehealth adoption.

Yet, another research by McKinsey & Company showed that 74% of interviewees who tried telemedicine had a positive experience. Despite these positive sentiments, patients prefer straightforward software. Systems with excessive features lead to frustration, causing patients to seek in-person care instead.

Simplifying the telehealth experience, improving acknowledgment, and addressing digital literacy barriers are crucial for wider telehealth adoption. By focusing on user-friendly platforms and promoting their benefits, healthcare providers can meet patient needs and ease the ongoing growth of telemedicine.

Telehealth Pitfalls for Providers

From ensuring regulatory compliance to managing technical infrastructure and maintaining patient engagement, there are several factors that providers must address to integrate telehealth into their practice. 

Avoiding Excessive Expenses

Healthcare providers often lack the technical expertise needed to choose cost-efficient solutions. This lack of knowledge can lead to mistakes in scaling and optimizing software. The development cost of a mobile telemedical application for healthcare providers can reach up to $425,000.
Hiring skilled technology professionals is cost-efficient, but building and managing an in-house team can be challenging and expensive. Hence, many healthcare providers choose to outsource. By doing so, they can reduce the cost of telemedicine projects by 50%.

Reimbursement Uncertainty

Telehealth reimbursement policies vary across US states, with 42 states having laws governing private-payer reimbursement. Yet, not all states must reimburse parity between in-person and virtual care.

Telehealth services implementation is complicated due to this uncertainty. Medicare, Medicaid, and private health plans are expanding their telehealth coverage, and patients increasingly prefer to pay out of pocket for the benefits it offers.

You can ensure compliance and capture emerging opportunities by monitoring updates from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and private payers. Keeping the correct telemedicine billing codes is essential for accurate billing and reimbursement.

Equally important is providing clear guidance to patients regarding the extent of coverage their insurance offers for telehealth services. By staying proactive and informed, healthcare providers can navigate reimbursement challenges and ensure a seamless telehealth experience.

Telehealth Pitfalls for Providers
Excessive Expenses
Reimbursement Uncertainty
Solutions Scaling

Solutions Scaling

While launching a medical information app, it is crucial to consider future growth and potential increases in user base. The COVID-19 outbreak serves as an example of how demand for medical services can skyrocket. To avoid scalability challenges, healthcare providers should focus on scalability during the initial stages of app development.

A reliable solution involves working with software development specialists who can choose the most suitable technology stack. By outsourcing the development to an experienced company, healthcare providers can receive scalable software and benefit from a reliable partner who can handle post-launch stages such as product optimization and modernization.

How to Avoid Possible Telemedicine Challenges?

While there are challenges to overcome, telemedicine offers many options to improve healthcare accessibility. To mitigate telehealth problems, medical providers can take the following actions:

  • Get familiar with telehealth laws, emergency provisions, and cybersecurity regulations.
  • Invest in equipment to enhance the remote health examinations’ accuracy.
  • Partner with skilled software engineers who get healthcare regulations to create custom telehealth solutions compliant with HIPAA rules.
  • Create telehealth solutions with core features for easy access to patient information and virtual visits.
  • Focus on a patient-centric user experience with an intuitive interface, smooth online interactions, and reliable technical support.
  • Train medical staff on telehealth software features, patient confidentiality, and data security regulations.
  • Educate patients on the benefits and possibilities of telemedicine.

Overcoming telemedicine issues with the help of above suggestions will revolutionize healthcare delivery in a short period of time. For instance, imagine a scenario where parents of a crying ten-month-old baby can use a telehealth app at 2 a.m. They would answer security questions, select the type of health service, request a telehealth visit, and receive a call from a healthcare professional within 30 minutes.

Wrapping Up

Telehealth is connected with challenges for patients and providers. The biggest concern for clients is misdiagnoses. Such mistakes are caused by a lack of physical examination and the necessity to make a diagnosis solely based on patient complaints. Another problem is the risk of data breaches. To address the risks of telemedicine, providers must focus on security measures and HIPAA compliance. The last mentioned issue is the lack of technical skills. Patients, especially the older ones, may have low digital literacy. 

In turn, providers face problems like extra expenses. It may be solved by hiring skilled professionals. Another one is complicated telehealth reimbursement policies that vary from state to state. Providers also may have issues with solutions-scaling. Yet, it can be solved by hiring an outsourced team.

The simplicity and user-friendliness of telehealth platforms are crucial to enhancing patient experiences while improving digital literacy and awareness.

Empeek creates reliable telehealth solutions for your unique needs and processes. We have successfully developed HIPAA Compliant apps and platforms that serve thousands of patients. Contact us to discover how we can assist you with your telemedicine app idea.

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Written by:
Alex Shpachuk Alex Shpachuk CEO
Alex Shpachuk is the owner and strategic partner of Empeek. His effective leadership and a visionary approach to the future of healthcare turned the company into a dynamic environment attracting the brightest minds with the common vision for product impact and service excellence. With over a decade of experience in software engineering and comprehensive knowledge of designing and deploying tailor-made solutions for healthcare providers, Alex channels his passion for software development and consulting into the written word.

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