Technology can usually resolve the challenges it creates, and it can do the same for the future of telemedicine accessibility. Over time, technology can shrink the digital divide and improve telehealth access to care.
- Facilitating reimbursement. As more states address telemedicine reimbursement, sophisticated technology that can track screen time and more accurately reflect telemedicine usage will be critical in incentivizing providers to offer the service and to support access for patients covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
- Supporting care continuity and integration. Telemedicine increases access to care, but it could create data challenges in care continuity if it is not integrated with electronic health record platforms. Closing these gaps will improve results and efficiency.
- Smart phone and data plan costs. To leverage telemedicine accessibility to its fullest, mobile devices with data plans that can support the bandwidth for the virtual visits are required. Smartphones and cellphones are generally more accessible than desktop computers, especially to unhoused populations. In the Bay Area, for example, 72% of homeless individuals had access to cell phones and 36% had smartphones.
Even with these challenges, the future of telemedicine looks bright. Stakeholders are pushing to expand access, and new opportunities are emerging in tackling behavioral health challenges, where physical examinations play much less of a role.
As the future of telemedicine continues to evolve, technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence stand poised to help reshape healthcare by improving connectivity and telehealth access to care.
Learn more about how Verizon is addressing digital divide challenges across industry.