Dr. Jonathan Neufeld, the Program Director of the Great Plains Telehealth Resource and Assistance Center (gpTRAC) has spent the last 15 years steering healthcare organizations toward telehealth solutions. When he began his work in the field, few people were talking about telehealth technology; but once COVID-19 entered the picture, healthcare organizations realized that this underutilized treatment option became a necessity for patients and providers.
In this video interview, Dr. Neufeld identifies factors that organizations should consider when integrating telehealth technology into their practices, current technology constraints for treating patients, and a glimpse of the technological future that could be awaiting us.
One of Dr. Neufeld’s favorite parts of the telehealth revolution has been how organizations responded to emerging patient needs. Even though providers were “the slowest [to embrace telehealth],” many have come around to the benefits and flexibility offered by technology. Dr. Neufeld explains that “across the healthcare spectrum, behavioral health virtual encounters jumped in 2020” and now remain around “50% nationwide.”
Dr. Neufeld believes that future challenges will focus on how integrative care settings design patient programs and provider services. In his professional opinion, “most healthcare encounters need a lot less [technology or in-person contact] than we’d like to admit.” It’s more about finding the right balance that best fits the organization, providers, and patients.
According to Dr. Neufeld, some factors that dictate where organizations invest include the legality of rendered services, reimbursement compatibility, the expense of equipment, patient access to adequate technology, provider training, and helping clinicians adapt their skills to a virtual setting.
Dr. Neufeld also shares recommendations for healthcare professionals who are searching for new technology. Although direct sellers of technology are one possible avenue, they may not be as upfront as educational organizations due to their financial interests. The Telehealth Technology Assessment Center—or one of the 13 other major Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs)—is focused on helping people understand, assess, and use telehealth technology more effectively. Another lesser-known suggestion is to attend industry conventions that frequently offer hands-on exhibitions and demonstrations.
Whatever direction you choose, we encourage you to watch our full video interview to get a more comprehensive understanding of this evolving area of healthcare practice.
Dr. Jonathan Neufeld has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and is the Program Director of the Great Plains Telehealth Resource and Assistance Center (gpTRAC), a federally funded technical assistance program housed at the University of Minnesota Institute for Health Informatics. The Center provides telehealth training and consultation to interested healthcare providers across the Great Plains region. Dr. Neufeld has consulted on many rural health and telehealth projects over the past 15 years. He has presented at national conferences and published peer-reviewed articles in the fields of telemedicine, clinical decision support tools, mental health services evaluation, and clinical outcomes.