After interviewing various stakeholders from public and private healthcare systems (in Lithuania and the US), researchers Dr Agne Gadeikiene, Prof Asta Pundziene, Dr Aiste Dovaliene from Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), Lithuania designed a detailed structure revealing added value of remote healthcare services, i.e. telehealth. Adopting the concept of value co-creation common in business research to healthcare, the scientists claim that this is the first comprehensive analysis of this kind in the healthcare field involving two different healthcare systems.
According to the researchers, although in the US the consultations via phone with physician have been available for more than fifty years, the technological development of recent years has radically changed the concept of telehealth. Using artificial intelligence for automated diagnostics, big-data analytics, virtual visits, real-time communication with data exchange, 5G, and blockchain can make a significant impact in the prediction and prevention of various health conditions, and personalisation of healthcare services.
“Despite the increased usage of telehealth during the Covid-19 pandemics, these services are still limited. Without any doubt, telehealth usage will increase in the future as it is considered one of the very important healthcare service trends. However, partly due to the inertia of the healthcare system, which is slow to adopt technology innovations, telehealth development is insufficient”, says Dr Agne Gadeikiene, a researcher at KTU School of Economics and Business.
According to her, the acknowledgement of the telehealth added value would allow developing more precise value propositions for different stakeholders of telehealth – patients, physicians, healthcare providers, and the government.
During their research, the scientists interviewed healthcare institutions managers, heads of telehealth programmes and physicians from different clinical areas where telehealth is applied, e.g. radiology, endocrinology, paediatrics and family medicine. In total, 15 interviews were conducted in Lithuania and 10 in California, USA.
“There is clear evidence that telehealth enhances patient and physician experience. It saves time as there is no need to travel, you have a shorter waiting time to access the physician, timeless help at a better price, and more. The issue is with measuring the clinical outcomes of telehealth, but also patient and doctors experience and one of the major issues is exactly what we explore – the added value created by telehealth”, Prof Asta Pundziene says.
The research revealed that among the most commonly expressed added values for healthcare system specialists both in the US and Lithuania were: accessibility of care, convenience, timely diagnosis, cost-saving, warmer and closer relationships between the patient and physician, focus on a patient. Remote patient monitoring and monitoring after disease were indicated as added values of telehealth only among the US health service system practitioners, and patient engagement into their illness control, better quality service, convenience, learning and avoidance of mistakes, a second opinion from colleagues were among the added value dimensions indicated by healthcare system representatives in Lithuania.
“The USA can be characterised as an innovative, and Lithuania – as a conservative culture. In the United States, the healthcare system is more of collaborative nature, and private insurance companies and healthcare providers search for ways to improve, save resources and satisfy their customers better. However, both research participants from Lithuania and the USA acknowledge the added value of telehealth, and it is only a matter of time until it will become a common practice in both countries”, says Dr Gadeikiene.
Among the inhibitions to the…