6 Challenges with Telehealth (and how Content Strategy can Help)

In a short, to-the-point article from Becker’s Hospital Review, science journalist Georgina Gonzalez listed out 6 challenges with telehealth. I read with interest, wondering to myself: can content strategy improve telehealth?

6 Challenges with telehealth

The article is so short, I can share the meat of it right here:

1. Many medical issues are best assessed through in-person consultations. Joint pain or cholesterol monitoring, for instance, require hands-on treatment and evaluation.

2. It is unclear whether telehealth is more prone to fraud than in-person visits. Just this month, a man was convicted in a multimillion dollar telehealth fraud scheme.

3. Experts are also unsure whether telehealth appointments are always necessary, and if they potentially boost unnecessary Medicare spending. 

4. Many older Americans are not tech savvy and struggle to use telehealth platforms. Over one-third of adults over 65 never used video to talk to others during the pandemic, and one quarter of Medicare beneficiaries over 75 do not have internet access.

5. Telemedicine use is also not equal. Black and rural Medicare beneficiaries use telehealth less often than urban and white people. Those living alone and with lower educational levels also use telehealth less. 

6. The platforms that telehealth are built upon aren’t always user-friendly, especially for older patients. “Telehealth” also may sound too cold and technical for older patients. One expert suggested referring to telehealth as an “electronic house call” to make it sound more appealing.

6 Challenges for Patients Using Telehealth (Becker’s Hospital Review)

Can content strategy solve challenges in telehealth?

In short, the 6 challenges of telehealth are:

  1. Telehealth isn’t right for everything
  2. Fraud
  3. Telehealth can be expensive
  4. Some people aren’t tech savvy
  5. Not everyone has equal access to telehealth (often contributing to inequalities)
  6. Telehealth can sound cold and technical (and the platforms aren’t always user friendly)

So, can content strategy help? Yes! Let’s address the issues:

Telehealth isn’t right for everyone and can be expensive

I believe issues 1 and 3 are the same. No, telehealth isn’t right for everyone, and yes, when people sign up for telehealth but actually need to see a doctor in person, that’s an unnecessary expense. (Telehealth may also add expenses because more people see their providers, but that’s a positive thing if it leads to a healthier, happier society!)

How can a content strategist help make sure people who use telehealth actually need telehealth? Marketing campaigns that share accurate and easy to understand information may be a start. If people don’t know when telehealth is right for them, in-the-moment education can help.

Some people aren’t tech savvy, and telehealth platforms aren’t always user friendly

Similarly, challenges 4 and 6 are one and the same. In my opinion someone doesn’t need to be “tech savvy” to use technology – as long as the tech is user friendly! And honestly, the primary role of a content strategist is to make an experience more user friendly. Luckily, more and more organizations are recognizing the value of UX in healthcare. UX designers and content strategists are becoming the norm.

Not everyone has equal access

This is tough. As I’ve written before, content alone can’t create better access. But words do matter. Another interesting point in such a short article is that Gonzalez doesn’t share any hypotheses as to why Black and rural Medicare beneficiaries use telehealth less often than urban and white people. Is it because the platforms are bad? Is it because telehealth isn’t covered? Or could it be a lack of available information? If it’s the latter, then a good content strategy (and marketing campaign) could make a big difference.

Yes, content strategy is key to solving challenges with telehealth

I see a clear takeaway in Gonzalez’s article: content strategy is the key to solving challenges with telehealth. In fact, 5 of the 6 challenges Gonzalez wrote about are directly connected to good communication and good UX. That makes this a perfect time: content strategists, let’s start working! It’s time to improve the UX of telehealth.

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