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Four common challenges of telemedicine in healthcare

Internal video conferencing is gaining steam in healthcare organizations, but there are telemedicine challenges that prevent the technology from being accessible to patients.

With the increasing use of internal video conferencing in healthcare organizations, clinicians are wondering why...

telemedicine has not become as popular and widely adopted as the video chat systems for internal users. Many of today's video conferencing tools deliver high quality and reliability for those looking to collaborate and meet from remote sites.

The advancements in many SaaS-based video solutions have enabled organizations to reduce travel and increase their efficiency. This is the result of video products being able to support all their collaboration and conferencing needs. Although the features and functionality needed for a care episode are similar to what is currently used, physicians are running into four common challenges of telemedicine in healthcare.

Reimbursements around telehealth are still not where they need to be

Despite some of the changes made by CMS around accepting and reimbursing e-visits and telemedicine episodes, reimbursements are still limited. For several organizations, telemedicine reimbursements are not a sustainable model.

Lack of EHR interoperability can cause more issues for physicians

Physicians are already required to spend a significant amount of time inside the EHR to document a patient visit and review the chart. When they are required to use a different set of tools for a remote patient visit, the lack of interoperability between EHRs and telemedicine platforms has drawn criticism from many clinicians that it creates more work for them.

Legal concerns when using telehealth

One can expect that any telehealth platform used in the healthcare setting is secure and HIPAA compliant. However, the legal challenges of telemedicine are not necessarily related to security. There are legal liabilities that vary from state to state around providing medical advice without a physical examination of the patient.

Unforeseen technical difficulties

Many patients would opt for an e-visit with their provider if it is available. But one of the challenges of telemedicine in healthcare is technical difficulties, such as poor call quality. This can result in physicians abandoning telemedicine if the frequency of bad calls continues.

With the continuing changes in payment models and the increase in patient engagement, along with many of the advances in technology, telemedicine will continue to gain traction. More hospitals will roll out different telemedicine programs and patients will have access to more services over time. However, the challenges of telemedicine in healthcare -- including policy changes and reimbursement issues -- will have to be addressed before it can truly succeed.

Next Steps

How to successfully implement a telehealth program

Securing telemedicine technologies is a concern for providers

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This was last published in December 2016

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