At the present time when the entire world is going through a phase of unease and chaos due to Covid-19, social distancing has been adopted as one of the most successful measures to combat the pandemic and stay safe. WHO has also recognized telehealth to be an essential step towards strengthening the healthcare response to the disease. The organization has also recommended telehealth to be one of the best alternatives to boost clinical support and performance for healthcare service delivery to those in need. Let’s know about this.
Need to Offer Telehealth Services in During Covid-19 Outbreak
It is a fact that in the wake of the Covid-19 battle going on across the globe, our hospitals have become risky establishments for both healthcare workers and patients. Governments are taking unprecedented steps for mobilizing their resources and providing their hospitals and the healthcare workers the needed tools to fight against this deadly virus. Different countries are adopting varying measures of social distancing, lockdowns, and PPE production, to minimize the chances of transmission of the infection. But these measures are proving insufficient to avoid overburdening on hospitals.
To combat that, governments and stakeholders need to reimagine the delivery of healthcare services to patients. While some countries are overburdening their systems for increasing production of PPEs, testing kits and ventilators, others are putting the burden off the healthcare systems by encouraging telehealth services. These services aim at delivering healthcare help to patients remotely, with the help of AI-powered applications and computing devices.
As far as the healthcare industry is concerned, this kind of approach can be a game-changer for the future also. But its full-fledged implementation would require a well-coordinated action between tech firms, healthcare providers and governments.
Challenges Faced by Telehealth Services
- Resistance to accepting innovation: Scaling telehealth largely depends on the service provider’s ability to streamline and offer patient support remotely. Instead of rushing to the hospitals, Covid-19 patients can now avail the same kind of health services through e-prescription, e-diagnosis, e-testing, remote monitoring, etc. from their own home.
Any country with 3G or 4G network connectivity can readily offer these services without the need for any software or hardware. However, many healthcare providers and patients are not so well-versed with technology, and they may have a hard time getting used to the new system.
- Reimbursement issues: Most countries do not offer full healthcare coverage, and it can become a complicated issue for uninsured patients across the globe. Registrations need to be made easier for such patients, and governments have to make arrangements for direct reimbursements for Covid-19.
Rules related to telehealth reimbursement need to be relaxed, and doctors should be reimbursed even if they diagnose, prescribe and treat the patients remotely.
- Safety and privacy issues: Healthcare industry is rigid and gives importance to the privacy and safety of patients as well as healthcare providers. However, in the case of deadly pandemics like the present one, this kind of rigidity may put patients in danger. Fast action and laws updates are needed to decrease compliance costs, especially the ones related to patient privacy and protection.
Apart from this, the strict standards of technology and safety create a complicated environment for telehealth providers. A delicate balance between the standards, laws, public health and privacy is needed to combat this pandemic. Data-sharing laws need to be relaxed, and at the same time, sufficient care should be taken to preserve the personal information of the patients.
- Integration of AI into clinics and hospitals: In many countries, hospitals are not ready to adopt telehealth technologies due to lack of human resources, low IT budgets and complex legacy systems. Doctors and healthcare systems are resistant to facing the significant challenges posed by this new technology.
Hospitals and executives need to quickly mobilize their healthcare workers to welcome the new technology. Some reliable steps may include providing tablets to healthcare workers, licensing resources, providing training for the launch of such services, mobile computing, etc.
- Engaging public and empowering patients: It is challenging for doctors to encourage their patients to receive their treatment at their homes only. This is a critical issue that they have to face. When someone becomes ill, they and their family want to get the best of treatment in a hospital setting. Viral videos are coming in which doctors are begging their patients to stay at home and consult them over the phone. The public needs to be educated and informed, and they should be given confidence that they will still receive quality healthcare remotely through telehealth services.
We, at SepStream, offer high-quality medical care and equipment to consumers as well as healthcare providers. As far as telehealth services are concerned, they also need special tools and equipment that can help in serving patients remotely. We can help you find the best of such tools and offer them to you at the best possible rates.