COVID-19 affected the healthcare system badly in 2020 hence there is an immense opportunity for the payers and stakeholder collaborators to rebuild the healthcare system into a more effective and consumer-centric system in 2021.
Now let’s understand what is virtual care?
Today providers and healthcare systems look for ways to increase their patients’ access to care while decreasing the overall cost of healthcare due to which the healthcare industry is evolving at a rapid pace. Fortunately, digital technology is acting as an enabler for healthcare professionals to communicate with their patients, breaking down the barriers that can impede a patient’s access to medical care. Here virtual care is playing an important role.
Virtual care is a broad term and it comprises of various ways that healthcare providers are using remotely interact with their patients. For example- Treating patients via telemedicine. Generally, providers use live video, audio, and instant messaging to communicate with their patients remotely.
While there are many advantages of telehealth and virtual care which are realized due to the pandemic, still certain hurdles associated with these care delivery models are facing by payers and the healthcare system as a whole.
According to a report, there are continued disparities in telehealth and consumer experience of virtual care. For example- In particular, Black patients and Latinx patients were more likely to experience technical problems and stated that the follow-up steps after the call were unclear.
Let’s understand various challenges associated with virtual care in detail:
Reimbursement for virtual care
The majority providers are facing transition difficulties to virtual care and telehealth. Moreover, virtual care and telehealth reimbursement disputes are getting highlighted by the pandemic.
Payers need to learn that provider satisfaction is essential to strong virtual care. They should streamline processes for telehealth visits including visits involving more than one provider.
It is hard to decipher telemedicine regulations and also they vary from state-to-state.
The COVID-19 waivers put in place in 2020 but once those waivers expire, reimbursement experts in your system will need to evaluate and update their processes. Patient privacy is an important aspect hence some tools used in virtual care is fall in a grey area of security and healthcare leaders need to examine that.
Moreover, problems in the mHealth industry, like a lack of interoperability in EHR systems, can sometimes further complicate the use of virtual care. Due to dynamic regulatory compliances of virtual care, some practitioners are reluctant to use telemedicine.
Awareness about virtual care
Chronic patient monitoring, therapy appointments, and post-operative care are some of the virtual care services. All these services run on software and hardware which can sometimes be costly requiring training to use, additional IT staff to hire, and the purchase of servers or other ancillary equipment besides the software.
There is the possibility that some patients are not computer-literate or may worry about equipment costs and setup. Still, others cannot find a user-friendly telehealth platform.
Limitations for physical examinations
Today, with the help of advanced technology high-quality video-conferencing is accessible to most patients and providers. However, a virtual visit may not seem enough to diagnose or treat a patient for some providers,
Although for many minor conditions virtual care can be very effective, however, physicians may not feel comfortable conducting an examination over video chat. This is the major reason behind some patients choose in-person visits over virtual appointments.
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