3 Reasons Why Your Telehealth Service Has Tech Problems

By: Blink Session

1) Your Staff is Not Trained

Video conferencing over the internet has only been ubiquitous since ~2012. Still, most organizations believe, if their staff can "Facetime", they can be left alone to solve telehealth tech issues. Its not uncommon for more help to be available for printer issues, than their telehealth tech. Like printing, video conferencing is easy when it works, but complex when you must troubleshoot. Your tele-providers must know how to troubleshoot telehealth tech issues.

Why Organizations Under-Train in Teletherapy

We know certain software takes time and commitment, but, in teletherapy, that reality is somehow ignored. In high school, I was required to take typing and a computer class. An entire semester learning to type. Plus, and entire semester learning to use Windows 95 (yes, it was that long ago) and PowerPoint. Graphic designers take semester long classes to learn basic functions of PhotoShop and Adobe Illustrator.

Organizations under-train because, if a video conference works, it seems easy. However, video conferencing to clients at their homes, does not work a fair amount of the time. When it does not work, tele-providers must know how to troubleshoot, not only their issues, but those of their clients as well. The more devices and places your clients connect from, the more issues your providers must be trained to troubleshoot.

2) Your Clients (Patients, Students) Lack Adequate Technology

COVID-19 forced face-to-face visits online. It was not a matter of: is it possible? People the world-over were forced to meet over video conference, whether or not they had the technology to do so.

The problem is that necessity does not equal ability. Simply because you need to board up your house before a hurricane does not mean plywood will be available. Even before COVID-19, telehealth initiatives were failing because of the assumption that, because everyone has a smart phone, they can be seen online.

A Sufficient Computer is Not Optional

At Blink Session we serve mostly organizations that provide Speech, OT, PT, and ABA therapy online. Most of these services require more than a video connection. Sure, a short visit once and in a while can be done on a client's phone, but achieving goals requires a computer with a big enough screen. Will people pay for therapy on their phone? Will the school approve it? Maybe in a pandemic they will, but that does not mean therapy goals were actually achieved.

Insufficient Internet is a Real Problem

If 20% of your clinic's patients were canceling every week because of car trouble, you would be concerned. We know our clients must have reliable transportation to our office. The thing is: people have been using transportation to travel to meetings for thousands of years. People have only been using video conferencing for a few years.

You must expect a percentage of clients to have insufficient internet bandwidth to connect. You must expect another percentage to have wifi interference issues. You must expect another percentage to not have the ability to troubleshoot tech issues. For you, these percentages might be low, but for those who operate in rural areas, they could be significant.

Tele-providers working from their home struggle with their own tech issues. Also, sometimes offices or schools feel they have a sufficient network and bandwidth, but they underestimate the demand with multiple providers needing to conduct video conferences at the same time. Many times, the insufficiency isn't with the bandwidth you receive from your Internet Service Provider. It could be due to wifi interference, latency problems, or other issues. Even most IT professionals are unaware of the impact of Wifi interference on video calls.

3) You Don't Know What to Expect

We all know, nothing works 100% of the time. The question in telehealth is, what percentage of success should we expect? In my telehealth tech consulting, one of the first questions I ask is, what percentage of visits does you organization need to be successful, in terms of tech? Most have no framework to know what success rate to expect.

In all medical disciplines, especially therapy, attendance is critical. Most organizations place an enormous emphasis on tracking attendance, because it affects how much they get paid and or whether they fulfill a plan of care. Some clinics even give bonuses to providers that have high attendance (productivity).

In order to increase attendance, organizations study the reasons why people miss appointments. They establish no-show fees, attendance policies, and strategies to encourage people to reschedule. Increasing attendance has become a science unto itself. This same attention must be placed on telehealth tech visit success.

To get an idea of what aspects might affect your teleheath tech success, take our assessment to get your telehealth tech success probability score. The questions will give you an idea of the tech issues that affect success. You don't need a 100% to be "successful". You simply need to be realistic about the issues and work to improve.