How Do We Make Telehealth More Accessible and Inclusive?
How Do We Make Telehealth More Accessible and Inclusive?

How Do We Make Telehealth More Accessible and Inclusive?

“Because telehealth is on the rise, and because technologies like telehealth technologies are becoming more pervasive, their demand and use will subsequently increase. We want to avoid the digital divide between those who already have access to healthcare and those who do not. In order to avoid exacerbating existing inequalities, one way to increase the inclusivity and accessibility of telehealth technologies is by enrolling both direct and indirect stakeholders into the design process. Determining who the stakeholders are, how this technology impacts them, as well as what their values are and how those technologies can be designed for those values is a question of co-design. Working collaboratively is the key to designing better futures.”

Steven Umbrello, Researcher of Ethics of Technology, University of Turin. Managing Director, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

Policy Makers need to bring in Reforms

“Insurance & Reimbursements have been one of the key obstacles in adoption of Telehealth for many health care providers. With shifting landscapes after the pandemic which have been catalyst for great many digital transformation reforms in many sectors, 33 out of 50 states have some form of parity laws for Private payers and Medicaid as per CCHPA(Center for Connected Health Policy) for Telehealth. Another technological catalyst would be 5G which would bring with it the speed needed to make telehealth experience seamless. If the policymakers continue to reform the bills needed to bring the telehealth consultation in line with in-office visits, there is great potential for telehealth to reach remote population and poorer sections of society in general.”

Amol Londhe, healthcare innovator, software architect, co-founder and Lead Product Owner at ZEBOC Care Anywhere

Lower Telecom Costs

“I agree with you completely that it is the need of the hour to make telehealth services more accessible and inclusive. Telehealth services can be made easily accessible and inclusive by lowering the costs of internet services broadband, (4g, 5g), laptops, computers, mobiles, and tablets. Almost everyone can use mobile devices and applications. There is only a need to put a little extra effort into promotion and education about telehealth services use and guide. Health is the basic right for every individual. Telehealth services are way more convenient due to ease of access and saving costs of traveling, visiting clinics, and waiting.”

Dr. Waqas Ahmad Buttar, Family Physician at sachetinfusions.com

“Telehealth helps makes healthcare more easily accessible, but only for those who can afford it. Truly inclusive and accessible Telehealth requires services available in lower-income communities and to more people of color. Many Telehealth services are directly accessed through personal computer devices with adequate internet access, which is a luxury across much of the country. There is an opportunity for these services to be made available in more local areas, such as health departments, that can connect underprivileged communities with unique specialists and health experts across great distances.”

Sean Marchese, Registered Nurse and Oncology Writer at The Mesothelioma Center, Asbestos.com

Insurance Companies covering Telehealth

“One of the primary ways to make telehealth more accessible is to require insurance companies to cover telehealth on all plans, including Medicaid and Medicare at the same payment rates for patients, and with the same reimbursement rates, as in-person services. Secondly, originating site requirements, such as that which requires patients to be in a provider’s office to call in to an off-site provider should be removed. Let people access the services where it is safe and convenient to them, while still requiring them to be in a location where their confidentiality can be maintained.”

Chris DeBoer, Licensed Professional Counselor and Clinical Director of Red Cedar Counseling

Telehealth in a Hybrid Format

“We need to maintain the focus on the delivery of telehealth in a hybrid format. We need to continue to create the space for telehealth sessions to occur, as not everyone has access to internet for telehealth services. We need funding to support staff going out into communities with telehealth equipment to offer access to providers. Think of the success of mobile mammography over the past few years. This is an example of telehealth becoming more accessible and inclusive. We need to open this idea to a wide variety of healthcare services from dermatology to mental health.”

Virginia Moore, PhD, MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC, academic program coordinator, Walden University

Bring Telehealth services to Consumers’ doorstep

“Telehealth soared in adoption moving from about 10% to over 70% almost overnight with COVID-19 – It was the only way to see your doctor. Consumers have become accustomed to a new way to have healthcare encounters. To build upon this trend, we need to build value around the Telehealth offering – a reason why a consumer constantly wants to come back to get their healthcare needs met. Whether its birth control pills, rescue inhalers, flu symptoms, Remote Patient Monitoring or other Digital Health services that you physically visit your doctor – Any services that you would receive at your doctor’s office, now have to migrate home (Blood Draws, Vital Signs, Face to Face Visits, etc.) to increase adoption and accessibility at home. Telehealth platforms have grown significantly over the past year and will continue to forge new pathways to healthcare, outside the traditional point of care – home.”

Kent Dicks, CEO of Life365

Conclusion

With quality and timely healthcare being inaccessible for so many, telehealth appears to be the modern day solution. It wouldn’t matter anymore if someone was living in remote areas or traveling, they would always have access to the healthcare of their choice. With the pandemic breaking the barriers to this healthcare innovation, it is likely telehealth will emerge as a new smart healthcare branch. If we wish for telehealth to be more accessible and inclusive, the various departments of healthcare, insurance, IT, telecom and other related sectors need to work in collaboration to ensure the progress of this medical pathway.