Challenges of Telemedicine Implementation in Solo and Small Practices

COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the increase in telemedicine adoption in 2020. Providers, some of which have never used telemedicine before, had to quickly adapt and start providing virtual care to their patients. Many providers went from no telemedicine at all to almost completely operating virtually.

While bigger hospitals and practices had structure and resources to quickly respond to the situation, many solo and smaller providers struggled.

Telemedicine implementation is in no way a simple task for a practice of any size. If the situation was any different, and there was no state of emergency, the process of assessing the need, researching available platforms for the best solution, considering costs, analyzing and optimizing workflow to accommodate for telemedicine, implementation of the chosen solution, training, patient education, and piloting would take months. However, due to the extreme circumstances, all these steps had to be completed in a matter of days.

For solo and smaller practices, the rapid implementation posed an even bigger issue as they do not necessarily have personnel to dedicate to telemedicine implementation. In addition, many of them have neither funding nor infrastructure as bigger hospital and practice systems.

For those reasons, many solo and small practices do not see the value in long-term telemedicine implementation as the constraints of existing regulations and policies that are currently relaxed to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic pose a huge constraint on the finances. If many of their patients would not be able to use the telemedicine services with their current insurance plans and reimbursement regulations, how can such an investment be justified? Hence, many utilize all sorts of non-HIPAA compliant communication platforms to interact with their patients at this time of crisis mainly as a stop-gap measure.

However, telemedicine is becoming more than just a tool, it is becoming a necessity due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. Many benefits and conveniences that telemedicine provides to the patients have resulted in high patient interest in telemedicine appointments. As more and more patients are introduced to telemedicine the demand for such service is on the rise. Where appropriate, patients can access the healthcare they need from the comfort of their homes, with minimal time spent.

Carefully considering and making an investment in a telemedicine tool can help a solo and small practice have a higher patient retention rate and cover the areas that they normally would not be able to due to location constraints and lengthy travel times. In addition, providers can reduce no-show rates and book more back-to-back appointments, even outside of the conventional office hours.

A group of lawmakers are putting the focus back on post-COVID-19 long term telehealth legislation with the introduction of the Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act, which aims to retain some emergency telehealth access and coverage rules put in place over the past year to address the Covid pandemic.

“Telehealth has been a game-changer during the Coronavirus pandemic, ensuring that patients can continue to get care while reducing the spread of the virus during routine medical visits,” US Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) said in a press release. “However, patients could face an abrupt end to the practice once the pandemic is over, even though it’s long been a proven and cost-effective way to get care. … This bill ensures the expansion of telehealth can stay in place and be used for continuous care during future disasters and emergencies.”

What is a solution to these problems? Solo and smaller sized practices should look for a low cost but yet powerful telemedicine solution that can provide the full capability and HIPAA-compliant security they need for remote patient care while staying on the budget. This will help them prepare them for a post-COVID-19 telehealth world

With a quick and simple onboarding process, the Vivadox telemedicine platform is designed with solo and small practices in mind. This HIPAA-compliant telemedicine solution comes with zero setup costs and is accessible from any device.  The intuitive flow on both provider and patient side does not require a lot of training to use. Choose from one of three affordable plans and start your telemedicine practice today with 30 days free trial.

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