Challenges of Remote Healthcare

We discussed Healthcare Workforce of the future in phase 1 of the Global Visioneering program. We recently saw how pandemic transformed the world into a virtual world and the dire need of ehealthcare, especially in underserved and rural communities for providing quality healthcare in these communities.

We want to learn from you what are some of the greatest challenges that need to be addressed?

@ymedan, @sahoo00, @SArora, @Jozef, @crointel, @nmgraham, @darlenedamm - What are your thoughts?

Hi @Shashi - it is great to see @SArora on here as I am sure he has many important insights on this topic.

While I don’t work directly in healthcare, I have heard from friends (one a nurse, one a doctor) that healthcare workers are really struggling to take of their own health given the demands of their schedule. So is there a way to either increase the workforce or make how the work happens more efficient (also while not sacrificing patient care and working within budgets?)

Hi @esther, @skohli, @ckpeng, @gharris, @Basil, @jadmclaughlin, @k-okada, @dhart - What are some of the biggest challenges related to remote healthcare?

Do you agree data security and accuracy, real time access to data, system integration, interoperability and cost of devices are the challenges of remote healthcare? Are we missing any significant challenge?

I would add accessibility and ease of use too. Underserved populations and Countries have access challenges to utilize such technologies effectively. If they do have access to mobile devices, it must be easy to not only access but easy to use through those types of devices.

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Super interesting discussion! I wonder if there are members in this community who could provide more insights into the technological progress and application of telemedicine, nationally and/or globally?

I used to work for a company who managed many assisted care facilities throughout the state I live in, and a lot of those facilities offered telemedicine pilot programs that were heavily subsided by grant money etc. but were quite effective for some of the patients who wanted to seen by their PCPs, but wanted to avoid frequent transportation to their PCP offices or too sick to travel etc. The staff nurses would assist in operating the remote examination tools (such as a stethoscope) for the connecting physician to see, hear, and speak to their patients.

If telemedicine is somewhat prevalent (at least in the U.S) and appears to have proven its effectiveness for some use cases, why the lack of scale and greater investment? To @dhart’s point, is the issue here being that the service needs to be completely accessible and operable on your own, without any intermediary assistance?

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Let’s see. Here are a few challenges I can think of -

  1. Remoteness of remote regions from main cities. While this may be obvious, it’s important to state so that we can find a solution to easily and efficiently cover those distances.

  2. Potential unwillingness of the native population to receive help and healthcare from strangers.

  3. Competition with local ‘healers’ and witch doctors.

  4. Cost of reaching the destination.

  5. Lack of well-paved roads.

  6. Insecure environment, in which the medical staff may be attacked by brigands.

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Potential overlap with climate here: one of the suggestions that came out of our first meeting with the XPRIZE Health Brain Trust yesterday was that tele-medicine could reduce carbon footprints.

Hi @skornik, @ymazhar, @srinisatyan, @TinaWoods, @anastasiyakgia, @ClaireM, @dalminana, @hongnguyen, @OnDigitalHealth, @rebecca, @ntycom - During one of our meeting with health professionals, we came to know about the following challenges in remote healthcare:

  • Accessibility to clean datasets from around the world
  • Decision Support System
  • Policy on Data Sharing and Data Validation
  • Behavioral change in healthcare

Basis your experience in the healthcare field, what are your thoughts on these challenges?

Hello Shashi- I have many thoughts but see work I am leading on Open Life Data Framework , as just published in the Lancet- Open Life Data to Support Healthy Longevity for All that addresses key issues n your area of interest. The Open Life Data framework will explore how the exposome of complex exposures from multiple determinants of health (such as diet, housing, air quality, physical activity, and social interactions) can advance healthy longevity research and practice. We have now chosen three very interesting use cases which will help us design the enabling data infrastructure and governance mechanisms to harness datasets in both public and private sectors across the life course to develop personal, population and pandemic resilience solutions. The framework will also help us to identify and promote preventative health metrics focused on what data matters most to achive then UK goverment goal of 5 extra years of healthy life expectancy while minimising health inequalities and inform a parallel initiative to develop a Business Index to measure business contribution to health as part of a wider risk management framework to get ‘health’ into ESG mandates- that is, ‘ESHG’.


Thanks @TinaWoods for sharing these insights. We’ll go through the paper shared and will get back with more queries if required.

Hi @ajchenx and @nastyahaut - We would love to hear your thoughts on the challenges associated with remote healthcare? Are we missing any significant challenge?

Here is an interview with Dr. Sonny Kohli of Cloud DX, XPRIZE Alumni on Telehealth Best Practices.

He mentioned following challenges in remote healthcare:

  • Achieving intimacy with patients. It’s hard to deliver bad news by phone or virtually.

  • Looking for non-verbal cues.

  • Continuous monitoring and accuracy of health monitoring solutions.

  • Meeting the emotional needs to patients.

  • Breakdown of communication barriers.

  • Improving efficiencies, closing gaps in treatment and knowledge sharing.

  • Smarter use of technology and the integration of data. Real time access to information.

  • Predictive analysis on the impact of medicine and therapeutics.

  • Patients’ active participation in collecting their health data.

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@mashizaq - Issac Gathu shared an interesting article in Frontline Health community on the reason why Kenyan telemedicine startups struggle to attract global investor. I am sharing this article here as it is relevant to this discussion. Following is the summary of the challenges mentioned in the article.

  • Local Kenyan e-health start-ups are struggling to raise investments owing to low confidence and perception bias on the part of international venture capitals (VCs).
  • Telemedicine innovators also highlight that lack of regulation constrains geographic expansion since each country requires regulatory assessments, increasing time and cost.
  • Another challenge is the recently adopted digital tax that the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) through which it targets to net some 1,000 businesses and persons.
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  • Stable internet access. Which is one of the biggest challenges in the developing world.
  • In the developed world, most importance should be given to cybersecurity and data privacy