Although we are slowly seeing a return to in-person appointments, telehealth continues to be a viable option for many patients. In a survey of 2,000 U.S. adults, nearly half or 42% had used telehealth services since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. And of those who enjoyed telehealth, 65% noted that the appointments are more convenient.However, that convenience also brings a host of challenges for patients and providers alike. Three common themes include: Access, Recall and Coordination.
Access: According to Fierce Healthcare, 21% of rural Americans say access to high-speed internet is an issue, making a video session with a provider difficult. More concerning is that one in four patients over the age of 65 years of age say they don’t use the internet.
Resolution: In addition to traditional telehealth, providers should consider incorporating traditional phone and text communications. Most adults, 96%, own a cellphone or can access one through a friend. Some patients reported having a text exchange as more convenient and comfortable than waiting for a provider on screen or managing video delays.
Recall: At-home distractions such as kids or animals, coupled with trouble with technology can all lead to issues with patient recall and comprehension.
Resolution: Providers are encouraged to utilize patient portals to provide a concise visit summary, reinforce directions and clarify next steps.
Coordination: Patients often bring a friend or family member to a visit to help with comprehension and provide support. Telehealth appointments make this more difficult often leaving older patients on their own with their provider.
Resolution: Providing a written record of the appointment that can be safely shared with family members can help coordinate treatment plans and ensure patient compliance.