The demand for virtual healthcare options is clear. Almost a quarter of patients have had virtual visits, and 57% of those who have not would be willing to try telehealth as an alternative to traditional office visits. In addition, 90% of physicians see benefits to using virtual care technologies and agree with patients that access to care is among the top benefits, along with increased patient satisfaction and an ability to stay connected with patients to facilitate better outcomes.
But, there’s a major gap in adoption that is hindering mainstream growth, as only 14% of physicians have implemented technology to make virtual care possible, and only 18% of those who have not say they play to do so in the next year.
Regulatory and reimbursement issues have been one obstacle, but as those standards and definitions are revised and improved the barrier to entry is reduced. The question then is, if patients and physicians both believe virtual care delivers benefits, how can the healthcare community address some of the concerns physicians have to close the adoption gap?
Understanding that connected health programs can deliver benefits is the first step, but implementation isn’t as simple. Healthcare providers need a clear vision for their programs that defines their objectives and value propositions, along with how they intend to measure success. That means understanding what problems virtual care or other connected health capabilities can solve that aren’t being adequately addressed by current traditional means, along with what conditions or patient groups are best suited for initial rollout. In order to foster success, it may be easier to launch a small-scale virtual care program and then scale from there rather than a broad implementation that covers a larger patient base.
To increase success rates, providers should not only collaborate with physicians on their vision, they also need to communicate that vision to all staff to ensure everyone understands program objectives as well as the benefits to both patients and staff. One of the detractors of technology adoption in any industry is a lack of understanding of benefits. Physicians and other staff need to know how benefits will impact them and their patients, including: increased efficiency, reduced workload and lower burnout rates, less manual data entry, increased availability to see more patients, impact on revenue, and better outcomes for patients.
Choosing the Right Technology
Defining a vision and objectives for the program is critical to choosing the right technology solution. In order to develop a successful program, a connected health solution must be able to meet the program’s goals. It should also be easy to use so physicians, staff, and patients want to use it, and scalability should be a consideration to accommodate program growth. But, perhaps the biggest key to increasing adoption is interoperability with other technologies and the increased efficiencies it can deliver by reducing repetitive manual transfer of patient data. Interoperability is the most frequent demand from physicians when it comes to their adoption of telehealth technologies.
Physicians also say they need appropriate training on new technologies. In order to maximize efficiency and reduce errors – which is the biggest concern physicians have with virtual care technology – spending the time to properly train all staff on a connected health platform can play a key role in its effectiveness for providers and patients and will increase comfort levels for doctors. From an infrastructure perspective, doctors also want better wireless connectivity to ensure high-quality video communication, as well as improved office design and configuration to improve workflows.
As physicians continue to understand how virtual care helps them deliver better care without increasing their workloads, adoption will continue to increase. Patients are already interested, so converting telehealth into a routine healthcare option will largely depend how well providers prepare their teams and plan their programs.
To learn more about why virtual care is critical to the future of healthcare and how to choose the right technology, visit us here.