The Most Common Telehealth Challenges for Patients

With an array of patients from diverse locations, socioeconomic backgrounds, and ages, using telehealth, challenges are bound to pop up. This doesn’t mean they have to be barriers to care.

Telehealth, the remote provision of healthcare services through digital communication platforms, has transformed the way patients access medical care. With the convenience it offers, telehealth has gained significant traction, especially in recent times. This approach to healthcare delivery has enabled patients from diverse backgrounds, spanning various geographical locations, socioeconomic statuses, and age groups, to connect with healthcare providers virtually.

The beauty of telehealth lies in its ability to bridge the gap between patients and healthcare professionals, providing access to medical expertise that might otherwise be limited due to distance, mobility challenges, or other constraints. However, while telehealth brings numerous advantages, it also presents a set of challenges that can vary widely depending on the individual's circumstances. These challenges, though common, should not be perceived as insurmountable barriers to care.

Telehealth's reliance on technology can pose a challenge, especially for patients who are not accustomed to using digital platforms. This challenge is often more pronounced among older adults who might find it overwhelming to navigate virtual healthcare appointments.

Technology familiarity and literacy

Telehealth's reliance on technology can pose a challenge, especially for patients who are not accustomed to using digital platforms. This challenge is often more pronounced among older adults who might find it overwhelming to navigate virtual healthcare appointments. 

Bridging the gap between technology and patients doesn’t have to be complicated. Healthcare providers can collaborate with community centers or organizations to offer technology workshops tailored to older adults. These workshops can cover basics such as using video conferencing apps and navigating telehealth interfaces. Additionally, emphasize the importance of telehealth platforms with intuitive user interfaces. Clear instructions and user guides should be easily accessible to guide patients through the process.

By fostering a supportive environment and providing the necessary resources, patients can gradually become more comfortable with technology, enhancing their telehealth experience.

Limited access to reliable internet

Access to a stable and reliable internet connection is a fundamental requirement for successful telehealth interactions. However, disparities in internet connectivity, particularly in rural or underserved areas, can hinder patients' ability to engage in virtual healthcare appointments.

When video calls are impractical due to connectivity issues, encourage patients to opt for phone consultations. While visual cues might be limited, effective communication can still take place. Providers can also provide downloadable resources, such as educational materials and pre-appointment forms, that patients can access without requiring an active internet connection. In cases where patients have difficulty accessing internet at home, suggest alternative locations with better connectivity, such as libraries or community centers.

By acknowledging the challenges of limited internet access and offering viable alternatives, healthcare providers can help ensure that all patients have equal opportunities to benefit from telehealth services, regardless of their geographic location or internet availability.

Communication barriers

Effective communication is crucial for accurate diagnosis and treatment, but language barriers can pose challenges during telehealth consultations, particularly for non-native English speakers.

To overcome language-related challenges, telehealth providers can prepare to offer some of the following.

Interpreter Services: Telehealth platforms can integrate interpreter services to facilitate real-time translation between patients and healthcare providers.

Language Translation Tools: Recommend using language translation apps or tools to bridge language gaps during virtual appointments.

Clear Communication Guidelines: Encourage patients to express their language preferences upfront and remind them to ask for clarification if they don't understand any medical terminology.

By prioritizing clear communication and leveraging available tools, patients and healthcare providers can ensure that language differences do not hinder effective telehealth interactions.

Digital inequalities and socioeconomic factors

Digital disparities stemming from socioeconomic factors can impact patients' access to telehealth services. Patients from lower socioeconomic backgrounds might lack the necessary devices or internet connectivity.

Telehealth Education Programs: Collaborate with local organizations or educational institutions to offer workshops on using telehealth platforms. These programs can empower individuals with the skills needed to navigate virtual appointments.

Device Loan Programs: Establish partnerships with organizations that provide temporary device loans to patients in need. This could involve lending tablets, laptops, or smartphones for the duration of their telehealth appointments.

Telehealth Outreach: Work with community health workers or social workers to identify individuals who might face digital disparities and provide personalized assistance in setting up and participating in telehealth appointments.

Inclusive Telehealth Policies: Collaborate with policymakers to ensure that telehealth policies take into account the needs of underserved populations. Advocate for policies that allocate resources to bridge digital gaps and promote accessible telehealth services for all.

By implementing a combination of these strategies and engaging in partnerships with various stakeholders, healthcare providers can contribute to reducing digital disparities and ensuring that telehealth remains accessible to everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic background.

Breaking down barriers

At HubbleIQ, our mission is to empower patients and providers to tackle their tech issues to ensure the highest level of care possible. HubbleIQ can instantly identify connection issues, provide AI powered troubleshooting, and help users resolve issues themselves to get them back to the important stuff. Contact us at this link to see how HubbleIQ can elevate your telehealth services.