There are three hurdles that must be overcome as video solutions rise in prevalence across the healthcare industry.
Dr. Centaine Snoswell’s passion for improving palliative care was palpable during her recent presentation at the recent Successes and Failures in Telehealth 2022 (SFT-22) conference in Australia. She shared that 48 percent of residents in Queensland live in remote areas, without access to specialist palliative care, depriving them of adequate physical, emotional, and practical support they need during a challenging time of life.
The true gamechanger for these rural patients is the growing prevalence of video consultations, a form of telehealth, that can give patients access to the care they need, from their own homes. It can also reduce the financial burden, as the cost of virtual care is significantly less than an overnight stay in the hospital.
Telehealth, a term that encompasses both telephone- and video-based caregiving, has been around for more than 30 years, but it’s only during the pandemic that we’ve experienced true, exponential growth.
A recent study published in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare investigated cancer care and management during the pandemic. The researchers compared in-person, video, and telephone consultations, weighing the perceptions of the patients and healthcare professionals as well as the quality of care.
The study found that video, compared to telephone, led to “greater clinician prescription, diagnostic and decision-making accuracy, and confidence in managing patients during critical consultations.” It comes down to the ability to see facial expressions and body language – a key part of human communication.
Video consultations ensure human connection in caregiving
While the telephone is suited for quick and easy conversations, such as scheduling, video is ideally suited to support doctor-patient relationships. It enables better understanding, greater empathy in the communication and is an effective way to treat patients without forcing them to leave their homes.
However, the researchers noted that telephone conversations were at times “easier” due to poor internet quality and access to technology in rural parts of the country. But this hurdle essentially ties back to the video technology in use, and its capabilities and ease-of-use, regardless of device or network quality.
These types of hurdles are not to be ignored, as they will only rise in prevalence as healthcare providers around the world turn to video solutions as part of their care regime. So, it’s time we start tackling them to ensure video consultations become a positive part of patient care.
Here’s a look at the top telehealth barriers we face and what we can do about it:
1. Poor internet quality and lack of technology
Setting up and attending a video consultation should not come as a burden to the patient. This means that the healthcare provider must offer a solution that enables easy scheduling, preferably from within the health management system in use. It should not require any installation on the part of the patient, and log-in to the meeting should be simple. The technology behind Pexip can be easily integrated into any health management system, and it is ideally suited for low-bandwidth conditions. It’s different from other video tools in that the transcoding of the meeting is done on Pexip’s side, relieving the burden on the patient’s own internet connection.
2. Patient confusion and uncertainty about connecting to the right meeting
It is not important for the patient to know the brand of the video technology provider when connecting to their appointment. It is far more critical that they see the familiar name and logo of their healthcare provider and perhaps even be placed in a virtual ‘waiting room’ with relevant patient care videos on display prior to their session. This familiarity can reduce patient anxiety about being in the correct meeting, especially as they await the arrival of their doctor.
3. Security of sensitive patient data
One aspect that we need to talk more about is the growing amount of sensitive data that is exchanged within those video consultations. When it comes to protecting health data, we need more than just “good enough”. At Pexip, this is our top priority. We believe that data is best stored in the hands of the owner, rather in the cloud and out-of-country. We also believe that a zero-trust approach is essential, meaning that no one has open and unhindered access, and that authentication is required at every step, for everyone.
Patients will continue to opt for video. It’s time to find the right solution.
These barriers to use are the things that we think about in Pexip every day. And it’s why we keep innovating solutions for this important sector, with the aim to improve the quality of care for patients, no matter where they are or what device they are using.
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