Though it has been around in some form or another for decades, telemedicine is only now starting to become more mainstream. And while there are many potential benefits to using this type of technology for healthcare, there are also a number of barriers to telemedicine that prevent its widespread adoption.
Here are four of the most common barriers to telemedicine that the industry should keep an eye on.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine can be used to provide a wide range of services, including general medical consultation, specialist consultation, diagnosis and treatment, patient education, and health monitoring.
Telehealth has four main types of technology: live video, store-and-forward, remote patient monitoring, and mobile health.
Each type of technology has its own set of barriers to implementation.
Live video telehealth requires real-time interaction between the provider and patient, which can be hindered by technological factors such as internet connection speed and latency. In addition, both the provider and patient need to be available at the same time, which can be difficult to coordinate.
Store-and-forward telehealth involves the transfer of patient medical data such as images, videos, and medical records from the patient to the provider. This type of telehealth can be hindered by the lack of interoperability between different electronic health record (EHR) systems. In addition, provider schedules can be full, and it may take some time before the provider can review the patient data.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a type of telehealth that allows patients to self-monitor their health data and share it with their providers. This type of telehealth can be hindered by the lack of patient education on how to use the RPM technology and by the lack of provider training on how to interpret the data.
Mobile health (mHealth) is a type of telehealth that uses mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to provide health information and services. This type of telehealth can be hindered by the lack of mHealth apps that are specific to the needs of the patients and by the lack of provider training on how to use mHealth apps. In addition, patients may not have regular access to their mobile devices, and mHealth apps may not be compatible with all mobile devices.
Opportunities and Barriers to Telemedicine in the U.S. Beyond COVID
When it comes to providing healthcare services, telemedicine has become increasingly popular in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic has only served to accelerate this trend, as people look for ways to avoid exposure to the virus. However, there are still some barriers to the widespread adoption of telemedicine.
One of the biggest barriers is the lack of insurance coverage for telemedicine services. While some insurers are starting to cover telemedicine visits, many still do not. This means that patients have to pay out of pocket for these visits.
Another barrier is the lack of broadband internet access in some areas of the country. This can make it difficult or impossible for people to connect with their providers for a telemedicine visit.
Finally, there are also concerns about the quality of care that can be provided via telemedicine. Some worry that patients will not receive the same level of care they would if they saw their provider in person.
Let's explore these barriers even further to enable telemedicine to help improve access to care in rural and underserved areas.
1. Lack of Access to Technology
There's no question that technology has revolutionized the way we live, work, and play. We can now stay connected with friends and family around the world at the touch of a button.
However, there is still a major disconnect when it comes to access to technology, particularly when it comes to telemedicine.
Even if people are aware of telemedicine, they may not have access to it. According to a survey, less than 10 percent of Americans have ever used telemedicine services, and only 4 percent have used it in the last 12 months.
Broadband infrastructure is one of the primary barriers to telemedicine. Many areas of the country do not have an adequate broadband infrastructure in place to support telemedicine services. This can make it difficult or even impossible for providers to offer telemedicine to their patients.
In some cases, providers may be able to offer limited telemedicine services, but the quality of the service may be poor due to the lack of broadband infrastructure.
2. Lack of Awareness
Many people simply don't know that telemedicine exists or how it can benefit them. A 2021 poll found that nearly 75% of American patients had heard of or do not have access to telemedicine.
3. Lack of Insurance Coverage
One of the biggest barriers to telemedicine is the lack of insurance coverage. Many insurance companies don't cover telemedicine services, which means that patients have to pay out of pocket.
With so many barriers to telemedicine, it's no wonder that so few people are using it. However, as awareness of telemedicine grows and more people gain access to it, we can expect to see a significant increase in its use.
One of the biggest barriers to telemedicine is the lack of reimbursement from insurance providers. This can be a major obstacle for both patients and providers alike.
Patients may be reluctant to use telemedicine services if they know that their insurance company may not cover the cost. Providers may be hesitant to offer telemedicine services if they are not sure if they will be reimbursed for them.
There are a few ways to overcome this barrier.
First, patients can check with their insurance companies to see if they offer any coverage for telemedicine services. Many insurance companies are starting to offer some coverage for telemedicine, so it is definitely worth checking.
Secondly, providers can offer to bill insurance companies directly for telemedicine services. This can be a hassle for providers, but it may be worth it if it means that more patients will be able to use their services.
Overall, the lack of reimbursement from insurance companies is a major barrier to telemedicine. However, there are ways to overcome this obstacle. Patients and providers should work together to find solutions that work for them.
4. Privacy and Security Concerns
The barriers to telemedicine are many and varied. But, when it comes to privacy and security concerns, they can be boiled down to a few key points.
First, there is the question of patient confidentiality. When medical information is transmitted electronically, there is a risk that it could be intercepted and read by unauthorized people. This could lead to embarrassment or even discrimination against the patient.
Second, there is the question of the security of the electronic systems themselves. If hackers were to gain access to a telemedicine system, they could potentially wreak havoc. They could, for example, change medical records or even administer bogus treatments.
Finally, there is the question of who will have access to the patient's medical information. In a traditional medical setting, only the doctor and the patient have access to the medical record. But, in a telemedicine setting, the patient's medical information could be accessed by a number of different people, including the insurance company, the government, and even employers.
Despite these privacy and security concerns, telemedicine is a promising technology that could revolutionize the way we deliver healthcare. However, before it can truly take off, these concerns must be addressed.
Though there are many potential benefits to telemedicine, its widespread adoption is hindered by several barriers to telemedicine.
These include a lack of access to technology, inadequate broadband infrastructure, limited reimbursement options from insurance providers, and privacy and security concerns.
One way to overcome these barriers is to subscribe to a reliable telehealth solution like Upvio.
Upvio is a great scheduling and telehealth software for teams large and small, HIPAA compliant. It's fully packed with everything you need: appointment scheduling feature with automatic notifications, forms builder, virtual waiting room, FaceVitals and secure chat. Book a custom demo HERE