Patient Compliance: Challenges and Strategies for Telehealth Providers

Medically Reviewed By: Dr Hanif Chatur

Image Credit: Canva

Key Takeaways

  • Patient compliance is crucial for optimal health outcomes in telehealth, but it can be challenging due to technical, privacy, and engagement issues.
  • Providers can improve patient compliance by providing technical training and support, safeguarding patient data and complying with privacy regulations, and establishing rapport and trust with patients.
  • By improving patient compliance, providers can achieve better health outcomes and deliver effective and secure telehealth services.

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Patient compliance, also known as adherence, is the extent to which patients follow the instructions and recommendations of their health care providers. Patient compliance is crucial for achieving optimal health outcomes, especially for patients with chronic conditions or complex care needs. However, patient compliance can be challenging in any setting, and even more so in telehealth, where patients and providers interact through electronic devices and platforms.

Telehealth, the delivery of health care services using information and communication technologies, has many benefits, such as improving access, convenience, quality, and cost-effectiveness of care. However, telehealth also poses some unique challenges for patient compliance, such as:


  • Technical issues: Patients may encounter difficulties with using telehealth devices or platforms, such as poor internet connection, low battery, incompatible software, or lack of technical support. These issues can disrupt the communication and trust between patients and providers, and discourage patients from using telehealth services.
  • Privacy and security concerns: Patients may worry about the confidentiality and safety of their personal and health information when using telehealth services. They may fear that their data could be hacked, stolen, or misused by unauthorized parties. These concerns can affect patients’ willingness to share sensitive information or use telehealth platforms that require data transmission or storage.
  • Lack of physical presence: Patients may feel less connected or engaged with their providers when using telehealth services, compared to face-to-face interactions. They may miss the non-verbal cues, such as eye contact, body language, or touch, that convey empathy and rapport. They may also feel less accountable or motivated to follow their providers’ instructions or recommendations when they are not physically present.

To overcome these challenges and enhance patient compliance in telehealth, providers can adopt some strategies, such as:


  • Provide technical training and support: Providers can help patients learn how to use telehealth devices or platforms effectively and troubleshoot common technical issues. They can also provide technical support or backup options in case of technical failures or emergencies. Providers can also ensure that their telehealth devices or platforms are user-friendly, reliable, and compatible with patients’ devices or preferences.
  • Safeguard patient data and comply with privacy regulations: Providers can protect patient data from breaches or cyberattacks by using encryption, authentication, firewall, antivirus, or other security measures. They can also comply with privacy regulations and disclosure protocols, such as HIPAA or GDPR, when using or sharing patient data. Providers can also inform patients about how their data will be collected, stored, used, or shared, and obtain their consent before using telehealth services.
  • Establish rapport and trust: Providers can use verbal and non-verbal cues to communicate effectively and empathetically with patients through telehealth services. They can use clear language, active listening, positive feedback, humor, or gestures to convey interest and understanding. They can also use video calls instead of audio calls or text messages to enhance visual contact and engagement. Providers can also follow up with patients regularly and monitor their progress and compliance.

Patient compliance is a key factor for successful telehealth services. By addressing the challenges and applying the strategies discussed above, providers can improve patient compliance and achieve better health outcomes in telehealth settings.

References: 1 CMS Reports 2021 2 Millwood 2020 3 Houser et al. 2020 4 A systematic scoping review of change management practices used for telemedicine service implementations 5 Solutions for Challenges in Telehealth Privacy and Security