Part 1: STREAMLINED TELEHEALTH EMERGES FROM PANDEMIC EXPERIENCE,
Tammy Allen, Director | Marketing & Programs, The NIIC
Three Basic Challenges to Virtual Healthcare, Part 1 of 2 Blog Series
Like the Greek mythological phoenix rising from ashes, telehealth has emerged as an integral part of healthcare. Telehealth is not new to healthcare. Yet, the recent pandemic expedited the need for patients, providers, and caregivers to access virtual care quickly, easily, and safely. This past year, a 200% uptick in virtual visits indicated patients and providers alike opted for virtual connection to minimize potential infection exposure.
In the first of this two-blog series, learn about the Three Basic Challenges to Virtual Healthcare. The second of this two-blog series leads you through Five Streamlined Options.
According to Rob Woods, Senior Solutions Architect at BlueJeans Telehealth by Verizon, “Patients feel more comfortable using their own technology in their own setting to interact with healthcare providers.”
- 50% of patients pursue telehealth, although in-person care is an option.
- 92% of patients report being more satisfied with telehealth than in-person visits.
- 80% of clinicians state telehealth provides better outcomes than in-person care.
“Many physicians and caregivers are scaling back their in-person visits and plan to stick with telehealth as their primary offering,” said Woods.
However, telehealth visits aren’t without challenges, and that’s where BlueJeans by Verizon comes in. “We’ve brought our award-winning video communications technology into the telehealth space,” said Woods. Launched in April 2021, this commercial telehealth solution was years in the making and builds on BlueJeans’ virtual meetings and events platforms experience.
In a webinar collaborating with The NIIC Connected Health Lab, Woods explained the three primary challenges to effective virtual patient care and offered three ways to streamline the virtual patient experience.
Challenge #1: Usability—Ease of use is vital for patients and healthcare providers alike. One option is to click a link to join a session as opposed to downloading an app.
- App-less options—”Providers don’t want to have to walk patients through the process of downloading an app and then joining with the app,” said Woods.
“Give patients an easy experience without having to download an app to join the conversation or initiate the visit,” said Woods. “This is especially important for geriatric and mental health patients.”
- Technology options—People might not have access to a laptop. Yet, they can join a telehealth conversation with a mobile device.
- Audio Visual (AV) Options—”Patients want voice options. Yet, they don’t want to be limited to voice only. They want the option for face-to-face conversations with providers,” he said.
Challenge #2: Connectivity
Connectivity is essential to telehealth, with industry capabilities expanding almost daily. Verizon has a long history in telecommunication and network capabilities. “They’ve invested a lot of money on the recent C-band acquisition that will help drive 5G adoption nationwide. So that’s a primary reason Verizon has invested inside the telehealth space.”
Acknowledging the last mile of a network can be a challenging experience, “BlueJeans and Verizon have a lot of experience in this component, given Verizon’s investment in 5G, wireless and multi-access computing. They’ve deployed over a million kilometers of fiber,” he said.
Challenge #3: Security
Security is undoubtedly a primary concern for all components of telehealth and an issue Woods addresses directly.
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996—otherwise known as HIPAA—is a huge component requiring built-in compliance.
- Encrypted data—BlueJeans goes through a third-party review that meets the security rule to protect all information. “This information is encrypted, both in transit, which means from you to another person or another point in the connection, as well as at rest,” said Woods. “So, any information we’re storing is stored securely.”