Telemedicine is a method to treat patients situated in rural, remote, or areas far away from health services. Today, it has become a convenient and effortless option to extend medical services to patients globally. Communication between the health care provider and the patient is through electronic audio and video equipment setup.
Benefits of telemedicine
Telemedicine services are a time-saving, cost-effective, and convenient method to provide services, treatment, and care to patients. Patients with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes can easily be treated even after the working hours of the hospitals. These services monitor the bodily functions of patients in critical conditions using technical requirements. It provides access to health care of patients in rural areas and stores the data using software that supports the reduction in the workload of health care providers. Researches have shown that telehealth practices cost ⅓ of the total cost of visiting the hospitals. Although, the majority of the health care providers can safely handle ER visits virtually.
Challenges faced while implementing telemedicine
Limited technical support
For proper utilization of telemedicine, high-tech software and technological accessibility are essential. Rural areas lack such facilities and hence fail to efficiently use telemedicine facilities. It requires the usage of expensive and reliable equipment that may not be accessible to all. Documentation and digital coding also serve as a challenge for storing and retrieving patient’s previous health records and subsequent medical tests.
Concerns regarding proper care and follow-up
Not every case that can be solved using telemedicine services needs to be highlighted. Reviewing the test results, providing proper follow-ups, analyzing the behavior of patients during therapy, and managing the medications is necessary for the protection and recovery of the patient that cannot be fully achieved using telemedicine. Furthermore, doctors are afraid to lose patient interaction and reverse because of the amplified use of the technical health program.
Reimbursement policies and legislative laws for telemedicine are tricky
Logistics laws and rules guiding telemedicine methods are less reliable and convenient. The practice has its limitations in reimbursement coverage. No private insurance companies offer insurances for telemedicine services. Therefore, a constant fear of doctors abusing healthcare services in telehealth.
Lack of adequate data
Telemedicinal services have shortcomings as not all the data is recorded. For instance, if a person wishes to switch doctors or health care providers, the new physician may not have complete access to previous health history and check-up records of the patient.
Lack of technical skills to potentially use telemedicine services
Not all patients are capable of using telemedicine services for their treatment. The broadband connections and services are not affordable for all the patients to support the telemedicine service. Hence, it restricts the proper exchange of information regarding the signs and symptoms of the patients.
Concerns regarding the invasion of privacy
Using technology as a means to communicate confidential and patient-specific data requires safety from cyber invasion and data hacking. Patients are concerned about the leaking of their medical records and charts to other hospitals and individuals. Therefore, who may use them illegally to purchase drugs and other medicaments.
Measures to overcome the challenges in providing telemedicine services
1. Providing education, guidance, and awareness about telemedicine services is extremely important for patients. To use the technology for treatment and diagnosis. Therefore, Emails, social media platforms, advertisements, and media coverage can help in publishing the new-age services to the people.
2. Addressing people over the expenditure of technology is furthermore essential. It has been observed that telemedicine services are reducing hospital visit expenditure by 25%.
3. To overcome the privacy concerns of the patients, it should be a mandatory rule to ask for patient’s approval before recording the video calls. Ensuring that the video and audio connections are encrypted is essential to prevent any case of data leakage, cyber invasion, and interoperability.
4. Implementation of reimbursement plans stating clear rules, objectives, and expense lists can be fruitful to overcome the complications of reimbursement. Using high-tech software for storing and retrieving the records of medical tests, medical history, and allergy charts can be a smart way to digitalize the data. Updating the e-visits and health charts is equally important.
5. If a health care provider or physician is addressing a new patient, it should be mandatory for the doctor to ask for previous telemedicine records and documentation.
6. For the patients who lack the how-who of using telemedicine services, proper guidance and assistance should be provided. Hence, one way to do this is by assigning a technical helper for initial two to three weeks to teach the general features of the system.
Telemedicine services are accommodating and convincing for both the patient and the physician. The technical services need proper support, consideration, and awareness to ensure it helps the patients in need, accurately and efficiently. Hence, some ways to overcome the concerns regarding telemedicine are by addressing the reimbursement policies associated with it and ensuring technical support. Also storing patient data safely, and using the technology productively.