What are Telehealth Benefits and Challenges?

What are Telehealth Benefits and Challenges?

Telehealth services have become a game-changer in the healthcare industry and, after the world paused for the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits of telehealth began to shine. In-person visits were mostly terminated to minimize the spread of the virus, but many patients with chronic conditions still needed to see their doctors. Thanks to the power of technology, patients’ waiting rooms became their own living rooms, with no need to travel and risk infection for healthcare. 

Providers and patients wonder if telehealth and telemedicine are here to stay, or if in-person care will resurge after the COVID-19 threat has been eliminated. There are various complexities involved in telehealth benefits and challenges, but the informational guide below will help readers better understand everything that goes into telehealth services.   

What are the Benefits of Telehealth

For Providers

Boost in Access to Health Care 

When lockdowns began in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, call centers and nurse advice lines were improving patient’s health by treating minor virus symptoms. This continuity of care, without the risk of Coronavirus infection, meant more vulnerable populations could still receive health care.

Patients who live in rural areas, older adults, and those with limited mobility or other disabilities have also benefited from virtual appointments. When they’re equipped with the right technology, it diminishes any worries about making travel plans to a physician. 

Better Patient Engagement Rate 

Chronic condition care benefited from telehealth visits the most, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Monitoring conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and behavioral health was easily adapted to remote assessments. Healthcare providers were able to facilitate, coach, and support these patients while protecting them from infections.  

Improvement in Patient Care Outcomes

Many patients agreed that virtual visits were as good or better than traditional in-person visits. Telehealth has created an improvement in case management and transition for any patients that experienced trouble in accessing health care. For instance, patients in rural areas were able to more conveniently meet with specialists for their person care since location was no longer an obstacle.

Reduced Rehospitalization and No-Show Rates

Thanks to health care becoming more accessible, patient care was more immediate, and post-discharge follow-ups could be done virtually. The new format allowed more opportunity to raise questions or concerns, and made many tech-savvy patients more comfortable doing so.

While telehealth services are not completely immune to no-show appointments, virtual visits still mean patients who would typically be late due to transportation issues, mobility challenges, or disabilities would be able to access their healthcare provider more easily. 


The strain on primary care clinics and hospitals caused by patient demands—e.g. beds, protection equipment, supplies, etc.—were reduced, thanks to fewer in-person visits. Clinics that made their hours more flexible also saw a reduction in stress among patients and healthcare staff.

Research reported in the Healthcare Finance News demonstrated that investing in healthcare tech made healthcare more efficient in low-cost settings. According to Diagnostic Imaging, clinics and patients alike are also saved by not having to perform or undergo overused procedures like imaging. 

For Patients

Improved Health Care Outcomes

As I mentioned, patients have received better health care thanks to the immediacy and accessibility to physicians provided by telehealth. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that people with diabetes were kept vigilant for warning signals thanks to telehealth visits. Since about one in ten Americans have diabetes, this kind of care plan is valuable in treating patients. 

Additionally, when patients are assured their healthcare provider is readily available, they are more willing to reach out with questions, report concerning symptoms, and follow-up to ensure they are staying on top of their health.

Access To Immediate Care

Mental healthcare has proven to benefit from telehealth services. Consistently monitoring any risky behavior gives the patients the ability to build trust between them and their provider, and patients are more at ease in their own homes.

Urgent care is also available if it is not a life-threatening situation. On-demand video visits can provide patients relief for medical conditions like sore throats, fevers, rashes, pink eye, heartburn, etc. The timeliness of healthcare services has proven effective for getting better treatment faster and benefits patients in the long run.

Reduced Travel Cost and Stress.

When a patient only has to wait on the other side of a screen, they are more relaxed because they no longer have to spend time and money to travel to healthcare sites and sit in waiting rooms. For people who live in rural areas, have mobility issues, or have other disabilities, no longer have to make travel arrangements that may take even more time and money than getting in a car and beating traffic.

What are the Challenges of Telehealth? 

For Providers

Health Coverage Reimbursement.

Health insurances are making moves to increase the cost of covering telemedicine in their plans, and policies tied to the federal or state government may have more restrictions to add to their policies. These issues cause patients to have to pay out-of-pocket expenses and get tricky when reimbursing the healthcare providers.  

Technology Resources and Training

To ensure a solid return on investment, the medical staff of a healthcare facility needs to be provided and trained with the right equipment;with more technology, an informational technology staff member or department would also need to be added.  

Limitations for Technology

While virtual visits are great for patients to be comfortable and more open about their conditions, there is a missing element that can be found in in-person care: personal connection. Technology can only do so much, and a video screen can only show so much of who a person is and what they are dealing with. Poor internet connection on either end can lead to even further miscommunication.

For Patients

Security Risks

Studies from the National Center for Biotechnology Information reveal that one prevalent barrier for telemedicine is that patients are concerned about cybersecurity risks. On the provider’s end, there must be careful attention to the front and bad ends of security measures. Patients must also be educated on data-privacy measures they need to employ to keep themselves safe from scams and fraud abuse. 

Inaccessibility to or Difficulty with Technology

While smart technology is becoming increasingly popular and accessible to the majority of the population, those without the equipment must be acknowledged in the discussion of telehealth. This group can have a number of reasons for not being connected, like lack of connectivity, lack of awareness on how to utilize technology.  

Limited Services Available

Virtual visits cannot replace every doctor’s office visit. Physical examinations, vaccinations, and anything that requires lab work, cannot be easily adapted to allow patients to stay in their homes. 

The Future of Telehealth 

The landscape of healthcare is changing. It is vital we acknowledge the problems in new methods like telehealth and telemedicine because we need to be aware of them before we can overcome them. Each of these telehealth benefits and challenges are an opportunity for learning. While healthcare may not ever be fully virtual, the benefits of telehealth are important to the public, and the healthcare industry must listen to its patients.