What are the pros and cons of telehealth services? Telehealth is the use of digital communication technologies to provide remote access to health care services. Also referred to as telemedicine, telehealth allows the exchange of medical information and care delivery from a distance. According to Medical Economics, 71% of U.S. patients had considered telehealth during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, while half had already scheduled or attended a telehealth appointment. While there are many benefits to utilizing telehealth services, there are some limitations to understand. An organization considering telehealth services should thoroughly weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using telehealth services for their operations.
What Are The Pros Of Telehealth Services?
Telehealth can be an effective way to overcome barriers to health services caused by the distance between providers and patients. No transportation, wide gaps in time between appointments, and a general lack of available healthcare providers can cause some patients to go without the care they need. Telehealth services provide patients with reliable healthcare services that they can access from nearly any internet-enabled device. For healthcare providers, some benefits of telehealth services include:
Software & Platform Integration
Choosing telehealth software is an important step that typically involves an in-depth look at a business’s existing infrastructure. Providers will want to select a telehealth platform that is already integrated with an electronic health record (EHR). This establishes the framework needed to help ensure that medical records are not duplicated.
While there are some “out of the box” software packages available, these do not always meet the specific needs of providers. One of the biggest drawbacks of these platforms is that they do not always integrate well with other systems, resulting in the need for side-by-side platforms or an entirely new medical records platform.
Streamline Internal Workflow
Telehealth services give providers the tools needed to streamline internal workflow to save time and money. When it is well-integrated, telehealth software allows providers to practice solely within the platform.
After logging in to the portal, providers can stream live video with patients and view patient requests as they arrive. Providers can also see which patients are in the virtual waiting room and pull up patient medical records as needed from the EHR.
During appointments with patients, providers are able to document any notes or changes directly into the telehealth platform. As EHR and telehealth software is able to communicate through a bidirectional integration workflow, providers only need to work within a single platform.
Opportunity To Acquire New Clients & Retain Current Clients
Telehealth has emerged as a promising way to help reach and retain a higher number of patients. HIPAA restrictions have softened in recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to see patients in a non-direct way. These changes have allowed providers the opportunity to see patients without having to leave their homes. Virtual doctor visits are now becoming more popular as providers are able to diagnose, treat, and even prescribe medications to patients over the internet.
What Are The Cons Of Telehealth Services?
Telehealth technology also comes with certain drawbacks. Some patients are not comfortable receiving health care over a phone or computer. In addition, individuals who may not be as technologically-adept may have trouble logging onto the platform. It is important, however, to remember that telehealth is still in its early days of adoption and will likely see positive changes going forward. With that being said, some downsides of telehealth services include:
Inability To Perform Physical Exams
One of the biggest drawbacks of telehealth services is that they are not suitable for all cases. Sometimes a telehealth appointment can not safely replace an in-person visit, especially when it comes to physical exams.
A provider may need to feel a patient’s abdomen or take a throat swab. These types of techniques and procedures cannot be performed through a screen. However, it is possible for a telehealth provider to schedule further in-person testing if he or she believes that it is warranted based on certain signs or symptoms exhibited by the patient.
Navigating Federal & State Regulations
While telehealth visits are becoming more commonplace, concerns still remain regarding the safety and confidentiality of telecommunications technology. Providers are forced to navigate the ever-changing privacy regulations published by federal and state agencies.
While laws at both federal and state levels have expanded to allow for increased utilization of telehealth platforms since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the future of this technology remains unknown. Providers and health facilities should keep up-to-date with applicable laws to maintain compliance and ensure their organization can keep up with competitor activity.
Speak To Hartman Executive Advisors
Telehealth has the ability to improve patients’ access to quality healthcare services. This technology also allows providers to see a larger number of patients in a day without sacrificing their high standards of care. Organizations interested in growing their business with the implementation of telehealth services should first compare their choices to find the best fit. Reach out to Hartman Executive Advisors to receive expert assistance in evaluating your telehealth options. Visit our telehealth consulting page for more information.