Over the years, the popularity of telemedicine has increased manifold. Thanks to the intervention of information technology in the medical field which has transformed the way healthcare professionals delivered care to patients. With the increased adoption of digital health platforms such as mHealth, EMR, telehealth and other technological advances not only the quality of healthcare services has improved but also has led to a reduction in medical expenses.
Today, the rise in chronic diseases and increased emphasis on self-care has contributed towards the expansion of the telemedicine market which is expected to reach USD 78.82 billion during the period 2018-2022 according to the Global Telemedicine Market report published recently. The convenience of remote patient monitoring and rendering immediate care services to patients without having to travel long distances are the key driving factors behind telemedicine industry’s success rate.
But the application and adoption of telemedicine still has a long way to go as certain apprehensions and lack of expertise are posing challenges on its way. We have listed the major four of them:
1. Convincing the Hospital Administration
The health system executives or the hospital administration may not find the idea of using software, hardware, IT services and telecom services to deliver care appealing. As patients leveraging telecare, teleconsultation, tele-education, etc. from physicians are not always paying for those services which otherwise would have been the opposite if they had to go for an in-person visit to a clinic or a hospital. Also, many of the health system administrators are unaware of the latest technological advancements that have made virtual communication a seamless experience for both the healthcare service provider and the recipient.
Lack of knowledge and the absence of skill set to implement telemedicine have resulted in the creation of apprehensions in the mind of the hospital executives who fail to understand the many benefits telemedicine has and how it can prove useful for improving the efficiency of their medical staff and building a strong brand reputation.
Awareness programs should be initiated to educate healthcare executives on the benefits of this emerging trend. Making them understand that telemedicine is the future and that is what patients are highly demanding can contribute in changing their perspective on the matter.
2. Physicians are Reluctant to Use Telemedicine
Although in their daily life, physicians are using technology in the form of mobile phones, tablets, laptop and so but when it comes to using them in their practice to deliver remote care to patients, they are reluctant to do so. The reason behind such a tendency may be because they prefer diagnosing and treating the patient in-person or maybe because they are not trained to use telemedicine technology in providing care services.
Also, physicians hesitate to opt for telemedicine because they have the fear that a dropped connection in between their virtual interaction with the patient may lead to patient mismanagement, causing a threat to the life of the person in need.
3. Infrastructure Inadequacies
Out of all the challenges posing difficulty on the full-fledged and worldwide implementation of telemedicine, the major one is undoubtedly poor infrastructural facilities in the field. To ensure an uninterrupted virtual consultation session, having the necessary technology and a stable internet connection is a must but unfortunately, the industry is lacking in providing these infrastructure facilities that can support emerging telemedicine needs.
Also, in many cases, it has been seen that the medical professionals are not adequately trained to use telemedicine tools for delivery of virtual care. Hence, the success of telemedicine implementation greatly depends on how powerful the internet connection is and how ready the hospital staff is in leveraging technology into their practice.
4. Sustenance is a concern
There are challenges, and if searched there are solutions too. But the main question is that once implemented how long the implementer will be able to sustain the telemedicine services? So, adoption of this technology is not the end. Hence, the providers need to have an in-depth understanding of what telemedicine is and how it works to be able to showcase its many benefits to the world. Also, having a word with successful telemedicine practitioners can be an advantage in understanding what should be done to sustain telemedicine program in the days to come.
Telemedicine is the next step of advancement for the healthcare industry at large. Not only did it eliminate the constraints of physical barriers in delivering care but also has made healthcare services affordable and convenient. From saving time to reducing hospital readmission rate and addressing emergency issues on time, telemedicine has been helping providers and patients both in indulging virtual communication for the faster solution to health problems.
It’s time that healthcare facility centers, as well as medical professionals, come forward in embracing the new trend for the betterment of the overall population.