When it comes to specialty care, there are varying conceptions regarding the usefulness or relevancy of telehealth. There is also debate around who is equipped and responsible for formulating and deploying telehealth strategies. In general, we’ve come across two major misconceptions.
1. Telehealth is a priority, but not at the service line level.
Many decisions that impact telehealth, like the money available for investment or the choice of which platform to use, are outside of the scope of service line leaders. Some systems have even created dedicated telehealth departments to deal with these decisions. Moreover, during the Covid-19 pandemic, most movement toward telehealth was concentrated in primary care as a way of evaluating potential covid-19 cases. For all these reasons, telehealth adoption has been slow to permeate to the specialty service line level. Many service line leaders feel that telehealth is out of their hands entirely.
2. Telehealth is a replacement for in-person care.
Covid-19 spurred service lines to rapidly implement telehealth on a scale never seen before. Especially during the shutdowns of the spring of 2020, telehealth was the only option for delivering care to patients. Although that is no longer the case, many systems continue to see telehealth as a replacement for in-person visits. Accordingly, these systems invest in and measure the success of telehealth in similar ways to in-person visits, such as by volume or financial performance.
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