Dreamsoft4u already has developed VCDoctor; a HIPAA compliant web portal that will bring patients and doctors together that could execute business transactions for their consultation and providing better and instant care for patients.
Telehealth is a means of delivering medical information and health care through the use of telecommunication technologies.
Telehealth does not typically create new or different health care services. It simply provides a new way to deliver existing services. On the clinical side, telehealth bridges the distance between patient and health care provider by allowing patients to remain in their communities, while being seen by a health care provider at a distant site. This enables those living in northern communities or areas that are underserved to have improved access to health care. Telehealth also saves time and money by reducing the amount of travel time and expenses, as well as reducing the time patients are off work or away from family responsibilities.
Defining and Overcoming Telehealth Challenges
The goal of this large grantor was to fund IT projects “to support planning, implementation, and evaluation of various information technologies that were intended to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare delivery.” AHRQ grantees implement telehealth programs all over the United States. Typically these programs sought to connect rural clinics and facilities with larger urban hospital counterparts in order to provide access to specialty care in rural communities. The programs used telehealth in a variety of ways, including:
Provider-to-provider communication with the patient present.
Provider-to-provider communication without the patient present.
While the way they used telehealth was diverse, they all experienced implementation challenges over the past decade but found ways to overcome them. Some of the challenges, solutions, and lessons learned they reported included:
(I) Security and Interoperability:
Security and Interoperability presented challenges for these providers, because disparate healthcare organizations were required to communicate information. To overcome these issues, grantees coordinated common security technologies, including firewalls and encryption, while sharing and maintaining security protocols. This required cooperation between different healthcare providers and the coordination of departments beyond IT. The report pointed out, “Changing organizational policies requires buy-in from organization leaders who understand the value of telehealth for providers and patients.
(II) Image Resolution:
Image resolution and video quality requires significant bandwidth. Providers reported low-resolution video was less-than-adequate for healthcare applications. The providers recommend introducing telehealth in pilot projects in order to work out these kinks.
Technical support that is efficient and cost-effective is a requisite for these programs. For the academic facilities, internal technology departments provided technical support. Rural healthcare programs had fewer resources and many times technical support was provided by a consultant our third-party vendor. This was an expensive undertaking several years ago, that has been mitigated over time with more user-friendly applications.
(IV) Organizational Culture:
Organizational Culture changes as part of any telehealth services offering. Gaining the buy-in of stakeholders is imperative in any new service line. Yet the grantees found that because patients saw many different providers within a healthcare organization, telehealth helped facilitate a team-centric approach that lent itself to coordinated care. The challenge of coordinating care improves with telehealth, because it eliminates geographic distances that stymie communication between providers and the providers and their patients. The study said, “Telehealth supports and enhances team-based care by connecting providers remotely to foster collaboration and health information exchange.
(V) Provider Retention in Rural Areas:
Provider Retention in Rural Areas is often a significant challenge. Rural doctors can feel isolated and may seek a more urban practice. Interestingly, the study found that telehealth had a side benefit of connecting rural providers with their peers from other hospitals in both urban and rural settings. One project funded by AHRQ developed a telehealth-driven learning network for doctors and other clinicians. The project surveyed network participants and found that the clinicians felt more confidence when treating complex and chronic diseases. They also reported higher job satisfaction.
Prior to implementing telehealth, some of these providers had to drive up to 100 miles to participate in healthcare learning events and networking activities. After implementing the telehealth learning network, grantees reported lower turnover among doctors, nurses, and other clinical providers.
Payment parity reimbursement and coverage for telemedicine services comparable to those of in-person services — is a big challenge for telehealth. There is no guarantee of payment parity between telemedicine and in-person health care. Even in the 28 states in which payment parity laws have been passed, no apparatus exists to enforce it. This could potentially defeat the point of telemedicine to reduce health care costs and expand access to services, and could also discourage providers from offering telehealth because there is no guarantee of comparable payment.
Misdiagnosis happens often in in-person health care, but the risks increase with telehealth. Add to this the fact that there is no clear standard of care established by state legislatures, and quality may be uneven between one provider and the next.
Misdiagnosis has the potential to drive up overall costs to the general health care system as well, because misdiagnoses leads to wrong prescriptions and treatments. According to the CDC, one third of antibiotics prescriptions are already unnecessary. Additionally, if a telehealth service cannot determine a diagnosis, the patient may be counseled to go to an ER or an urgent care service. If these visits are unnecessary, they may result in a large cost to both the patient and the system as a whole.
(VIII) Widespread Implementation:
The government has been attempting to address patient demand for telehealth by passing legislation like CONNECT (Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies), which expands the availability of services provided through telehealth under Medicare.
The challenges of widespread implementation of telemedicine encompass many different areas, because “telehealth” can refer to so many different things — from robotics to telephone consultations. Some of the responsibility of implementation resides with the legal system, and rests with the government. Some is institutional, and rests with local hospitals and health care institutions. Also, some of the challenges are financial, and require the effective utilization of business strategy and human resources.
(X) Telehealth Vendors:
One unique challenge of utilizing telemedicine technologies on an extended scale is how to account for the vendors. Vendors are integral to the process, but they are not held responsible nor are they compensated for individual cases. Additionally, the line between provider and care platform is sometimes blurred when it comes to telehealth vendors.
VCDoctor works every day with clinicians utilizing telemedicine service lines to improve patient care. Talk to us about the challenges you’re experiencing with an existing service line, or about implementing a new virtual service for your patients.
Get in Touch, if you are having an idea of Telehealth App, we would like to hear from you.