To help you choose the right telemedicine software, we spent weeks researching, evaluating and testing dozens of platforms. We looked at a wide range of factors, including how much they cost, how easy they are to use and the features they offer, to determine which ones are best for small and midsize medical practices. You can read about our choices below, along with more information about what you should know when buying telemedicine software.
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Compare Our Best Picks
|Pricing||Starts at $783 per month||Appointment-based; requires quote||Starts at$95 per provider per month||Monthly cost based on volume and support requirements; requires quote|
|Hardware||3 telemedicine stations and 3 connected devices|
|Web-based software||Doctor on Tap (DOT) Backpack|
|Fees||Setup and training included; fees for hardware||Fees for custom add-ons only||$250 setup/training fee||Hardware fee|
GlobalMed: Best Overall
GlobalMed offers a comprehensive telemedicine platform, complete with hardware, at an affordable monthly price. Telemedicine platforms like GlobalMed can often cost tens of thousands of dollars to implement, but through GlobalMed's Cost Simplified program, a robust, sophisticated telemedicine solution is available starting at $783 per month.
The GlobalMed platform includes the company's eNcounter telemedicine software, the WallDoc telemedicine station, the Transportable Exam Station, the Xpress Station, the TotalExam 3 camera, the ClearSteth connected stethoscope, and the TotalVitals handheld monitor device. There is an added fee to use the stations in addition to GlobalMed's software platform and connected devices.
- eNcounter telemedicine software: eNcounter is what powers the entire GlobalMed telemedicine platform. It features video consultations that enable multiple participants at once, cloud-based data storage, HIPAA and HITRUST security compliance, and custom provider workflows. Workflows include a scheduling tool, encounter summaries and video recordings.
The eNcounter software appears relatively user-friendly, although the video consultation screen can feel a bit cluttered with all the relevant data in the margins. Video consultations include patient vitals (if available), attached documents or images, and a series of video controls, such as muting audio and turning off the video feed. The software also allows providers to annotate images during video consults, and remotely control the camera to examine patients.
- TotalExam 3: The TotalExam 3 connected device is a high-definition camera that can be used for video encounters. You can use it with a series of attachments designed for specific purposes. For example, TotalExam 3 can be outfitted with a tongue depressor attachment for throat examinations. It is included in the subscription price of the software.
- ClearSteth: The ClearSteth is GlobalMed's connected stethoscope, which allows a provider to remotely examine a patient's heart and lung functions. It is included in the subscription price of the software.
- TotalVitals: The TotalVitals Monitor is a handheld device that can be used to capture readings of a patient's vital signs, including temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. It is included in the subscription price of the software.
- WallDoc: The GlobalMed WallDoc is a tablet-like device that features a webcam. As the name suggests, the device can be mounted flat against a wall. It also includes a keyboard mount for providers to take notes during the patient encounter. The WallDoc brings the total monthly cost of GlobalMed's telemedicine platform to $1,267.
- TES: The Transportable Exam Station comes in a rolling case for mobile providers. It connects via Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G or wired connections. Inside the case is a tablet and storage space for connected medical devices. The TES brings the total monthly cost of GlobalMed's telemedicine platform to $1,171.
- Xpress Station: The Xpress Station is a tall, rolling telemedicine cart with a monitor and webcam attached. It also features a small desk the provider can use during video consults. The Xpress Station brings the total monthly cost of GlobalMed's telemedicine platform to $1,164.
According to GlobalMed, implementation of the eNcounter software takes six to eight weeks. Software updates and technical support is included and managed by a remote team of GlobalMed employees. Setup costs and training are included in the subscription price of the software, but additional fees may apply for the setup and training associated with hardware.
While GlobalMed makes the cost of a comprehensive, hospital-style telemedicine platform more manageable for medical practices, it is still a significant expense for small and midsize practices. For practices already managing monthly subscriptions for an electronic medical record system, practice management software or a billing service, the additional expense could be a strain on the budget. If you're looking to offer more basic telemedicine consults, rather than full remote examinations, a more affordable option might be better for you.
swyMed: Best for Emergency Care
swyMed is a telemedicine platform focused on provider-to-provider interactions, such as between a doctor in a hospital and a paramedic in the field. The company offers a mobile telemedicine solution that can be fitted for ambulances or carried along with an EMT responding to a call. It's designed to maintain a resilient connection in rural and mountainous regions. Using swyMed's patented technology, the telemedicine platform can connect and stay connected over a cellular network while a patient is in transit. Data is secured by AES 256-bit encryption, which exceeds HIPAA standards. No personal health information is stored on swyMed devices or servers.
Pricing for swyMed requires a specialized quote. It includes a hardware fee for the Doctor on Tap (DOT) Backpack, a strong mobile hotspot that ensures consistent, uninterrupted connectivity. It also has a monthly operating cost, which varies by usage and support requirements. Included in this cost is technical monitoring: swyMed will keep tabs on battery operation, antenna function, geographic location, signal strength and more, alerting you when something appears abnormal.
To use swyMed, providers download an application to their phone, tablet or desktop. The software user interface appears like a typical video conference platform with additional tools and features, such as remote camera control. On the patient side, a provider (such as an EMT) could use connected medical devices to capture vitals and upload images to the doctor on the other end. The doctor can cycle through tools to alter the way information is relayed through the devices. For example, they can adjust the audio transmitted by the connected stethoscope on their end. Up to 16 users can participate on a single swyMed call.
The user interface appears simpler than some of the other telemedicine platforms we reviewed, likely due to its design for emergency situations. One of swyMed's typical use cases is for rural regions, where it is used to relay information to doctors in rural hospitals. The doctors can use the information from emergency personnel to determine whether the patient can be treated in the rural hospital or needs treatment at a larger facility. The goal is to get patients treatment at the appropriate location as quickly as possible, rather than to run a virtual medical practice or hold remote consultations with patients.
swyMed works on any operating system and is highly flexible with integrations. It maintains a wide range of integrations with third-party connected medical devices (such as EKGs and stethoscopes) as well as a flexible architecture with leading EMR systems. swyMed leverages software development kits for additional third-party devices to build new integrations on demand. There is generally a fee for swyMed to build new integrations, depending on the complexity and labor-intensiveness of the task. However, when swyMed receives multiple requests for new integrations to a particular device or EMR system, the company will waive the fee.
swyMed excels at emergency use primarily because of its resilient connection and simple interface. Its dependability in isolated or poorly connected areas makes it effective for a wide range of situations. Moreover, its flexible architecture allows the integration of virtually any third-party connected device or EMR system. For these reasons, swyMed is our best pick for telemedicine software for emergency care.
Mend: Easiest to Use
Mend offers an easy-to-use, all-in-one telemedicine platform that can be used for video consultation, online scheduling, intake questionnaires and appointment setting. All features are a la carte, so if your practice only needs video consultations, you don't have to pay for the entire software suite. Mend representatives declined to give us a ballpark quote, stating that pricing is based on the volume of appointments and the level of service a practice requires. Quotes are offered on a case-by-case basis. Mend requires an annual contract as well.
- Appointment reminders: When you schedule an appointment in Mend, you can set reminders for patients via text message or email. Reminders will go out as their video consultation approaches to reduce no-shows and last-minute cancellations.
- Digital forms: Another timesaving measure that Mend offers is the digital forms, such as patient intake questionnaires, that can be hosted directly on the platform. When signing on ahead of a video consultation, patients can fill out information customized to the needs of your practice. When the consultation begins, the provider can review that information and, if you have an EMR integration, export the questionnaire to your practice's EMR system.
- Video consultations: The core of Mend's platform is the video consultation between healthcare provider and patient. The video is a familiar conference-style system, with a thumbnail of the provider's view in the corner and the patient view enlarged in the center of the screen. You can add your practice's branding to the banner at the top of the screen. Tools on the right side of the screen include web chat, the option to send additional files, and an appointment tool for scheduling follow-ups at the end of a consultation.
- Follow-up surveys: After a consultation, Mend can direct patients to a survey where they can leave their feedback. Surveys can provide useful insights for medical practices looking to gauge the effectiveness of their telemedicine services or improve patient engagement across the board.
- AI appointment tool: One of Mend's standout features is its AI-driven predictive appointment tool, which anticipates whether a patient is likely to cancel an appointment or fail to show up. Based on the predictions of this tool, practices can proactively reach out to patients to reschedule appointments or send additional reminders. Reducing cancellations and no-shows saves practices time and money by helping them fill earlier appointment slots with patients who are going to show up.
Mend is device-agnostic and cloud-based. Any device with an internet connection, camera and microphone can run Mend, including Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. For security, the platform is fully compliant with HIPAA and HITECH. Tech support remains available anytime appointments are booked on the platform. The average response time of the tech support team is 23 seconds after a request is received.
Mend is easy-to-use telemedicine software that covers all the bases a medical practice needs to offer telemedicine services. Since it's cloud-based software, implementation is relatively straightforward. Moreover, integrations are available for most leading EMR systems. However, Mend lacks some of the advanced tools and features we found with other telemedicine platforms in our review. It is best for a small medical practice that wants to offer video consultations and basic examinations to patients, rather than digitize a wide range of its operations. If you're looking for a way to increase patient engagement and drive efficiency by reducing no-shows, cancellations and unnecessary visits, Mend is a good solution.
CareClix: Best for Budget
CareClix is a user-friendly, web-based telemedicine platform that starts at an inexpensive $95 per month. The software requires a one-time $250 setup fee for a "virtual clinic." This fee also covers training for your medical practice's staff and healthcare providers. The monthly subscription cost includes the virtual clinic, user licenses and admin accounts. The exact price depends on the size of your medical practice, which includes the number of users and appointments. CareClix can add your practice's branding to the portal and user interface for an extra fee.
CareClix is a cloud-based solution with an intuitive, customizable interface. Virtually every feature can be activated or deactivated as needed. Appointments can be confirmed and viewed directly in CareClix; a digital waiting room can be created for patients and filled with educational materials; and providers can start consultations in a video conference setting.
During consultations, providers can check patients' vital signs – including blood pressure, glucose levels, heart rate and temperature – with a compatible connected medical device. All vital signs can be switched on and off to the provider's preferences.
In the top right corner of the interface during a consultation, providers can access the patient's medical records, prescription history and intake questionnaires, while the video feed of the patient will snap to a thumbnail in the corner of the screen. CareClix features a basic internal SOAP note, or the software can integrate with most leading EMR systems, letting providers take clinical notes directly in their EMR during the consultation.
Providers can also use the invite function to bring in a third party during the consultation, whether it is another healthcare provider or a patient's family member. Only the healthcare provider has the ability to invite a third party by email; patients cannot use the portal to invite anyone to join the conference.
While providers are in an exam, they can view the waiting room on the right-hand side of the interface. The panel shows if there are other people waiting to see the provider and how long they have been waiting. Doctors can directly message patients in the waiting room if they are running late.
Providers can set up profiles within CareClix that include patients' reasons for visits, personal information and photos. They can also indicate whether they are online or offline, so their availability is apparent to patients and admins.
Administrators are able to set permissions and alerts, access reporting tools, and see lists of providers, clinical locations and patients. You can see all of your practice's upcoming, confirmed and completed appointments, and get a real-time look into the waiting room. As an admin, you also have the ability to book follow-up appointments after a video consult and reschedule existing appointments. You can drop into the waiting room to message patients about any changes, such as if a provider is running late and appointments need to be rescheduled. The scheduling tool looks much like the typical calendar in practice management software.
For patients, registration is as easy as following the prompts on a sign-up page, which they can access through a link on your practice's website or in an email message. CareClix performs batch insurance eligibility checks, and patients can fill in their preferred pharmacies and answer intake questionnaires directly within the software. They can also make payments through CareClix.
Overall, CareClix is versatile and comprehensive software that is easy to set up and use. It is an excellent option for a small medical practice looking to offer telemedicine services, or a practice that wants to be fully virtual. The main drawback is the setup fee, which some other telemedicine companies in our review don't require. However, the low monthly cost and the included training could make it a small price to pay for a well-rounded and otherwise inexpensive platform.
Pricing for telemedicine software has a couple different models. The first is a monthly subscription rate, which is often charged on a per-provider basis. The second is a capital expenditure model, in which a practice or hospital purchases the telemedicine platform and any necessary devices outright.
- Monthly subscription: In this model, a practice or hospital pays a monthly fee for service and/or hardware. This fee is generally charged on a monthly per-provider basis, a familiar method of pricing for healthcare IT solutions. In our evaluation, we encountered monthly subscription rates from as little as $95 to $1,200 per provider. Generally, the more expensive a system, the more capabilities and connected devices it includes.
- Capital expenditure model: In a cap-ex model, a hospital or medical practice purchases the entire telemedicine platform, including any hardware needed for its operation. This is usually akin to an on-premises solution, with which a practice would store any data on its own servers and maintain all necessary infrastructure. However, in some cases, technical support packages are available from the vendor. Cap-ex models can start around $50,000 and easily exceed $100,000 depending on the system.
For many small and midsize medical practices, the monthly subscription model is far more manageable. A capital expenditure is generally untenable for small organizations with relatively little liquid capital. For hospitals and large healthcare systems, the capital expenditure route might be more realistic and, in the long run, more cost-effective.
Telemedicine Software Features
Not all telemedicine software is created equal. Some feature a basic video consultation tool and nothing more. Others have a wide range of features that make them as useful as an EMR system or practice management software. Here are some of the features you might encounter when researching telemedicine platforms.
Video Consultation and Exam
All telemedicine software requires an HD audio and video connection between provider and patient. These connections must be secured to HIPAA standards at a minimum. Many video consultation tools also feature the ability to bring in multiple additional parties as needed, like another healthcare provider or a patient's family member.
Telemedicine AppSome telemedicine platforms offer a mobile app. In some cases, a downloadable app is available for both Android and iOS mobile devices, while in other cases it is only available on one or the other. A telemedicine app generally brings the same features as the desktop software to a mobile format. Some telemedicine software is only available via web browser, however.
Connected DevicesThe more advanced telemedicine platforms integrate with smart medical devices. These hardware tools allow providers to dispatch a medical assistant or midlevel provider to the patient's location to take readings of their vitals, for example, or examine the patient more closely. Some hardware is capable of sending high-definition video and images, such as the interior of a patient's ear. Telemedicine platforms with connected medical devices offer an opportunity for advanced digital exams, rather than just simple consultations.
Image CaptureMost telemedicine software offers some form of image capture, which allows providers to save images from a video exam. This is especially useful for platforms that employ connected medical devices and diagnostic tools, such as those for ear, nose and throat examinations.
Patient MessengerIf you need to send your patient additional instructions, educational materials or captured images, many telemedicine platforms offer patient-to-provider chat. On some platforms, the chat can also be used to alert waiting patients if a provider is running late for their appointment.
Some telemedicine programs offer annotation tools that allow you to draw on images to highlight certain areas for the patient. These tools are not necessary but can be a nice for explaining diagnoses or conditions to patients over video chat.
If your telemedicine software is integrated with your practice management software or EMR system, you can export data captured during your remote visits and exams directly to those systems. For billing, data export to your practice management software ensures proper coding and claims generation, helping the back office to get you paid for your digital visits. For clinical notes and patient charts, exporting data like vitals and any captured images to an EMR system is useful.
Front-Office FeaturesSome telemedicine software offers front-office tools, such as appointment setters and reminders. These tools make it easy to manage your queue of digital visits separate from or alongside your in-person appointments, whichever you prefer. Another useful feature is a digital waiting room, where patients can queue as they wait for their appointment.
How to Choose Telemedicine Software
If, like many medical practices, you're new to telemedicine software, it's important to know what you're looking for. You might want a comprehensive platform designed for advanced remote examinations, or a simpler platform mainly for video consultations. The following factors should help you decide which telemedicine platform is right for your medical practice.
The needs of a primary care physician are different from the needs of a mental health specialist or dermatologist. Any platform that claims to fit all types of practices is unlikely to meet your practice's unique needs. A hospital might require telemedicine software for remote patient monitoring, for example, while a practice is more likely to engage in video consultations. If you are a multispecialty practice, consider a versatile and comprehensive platform with diagnostic tools. If your focus is mental health, a simpler video conferencing platform could be adequate to run virtual sessions.
Consider your goals as a practice. Are you looking to offer telemedicine solutions to reduce unnecessary appointments and no-shows? Or are you interested in telemedicine to schedule remote check-ins for patients with chronic conditions? Some practices want a telemedicine solution that can effectively digitize entire exams by sending a medical assistant to the patient's location with connected diagnostic devices. The goals of your telemedicine program will determine the type of platform you need, so carefully consider what you want out of telemedicine software before researching the market.
Implementation and Training
All telemedicine software requires an implementation period, much like EMR software. How extensive it is depends on the complexity of the system. During implementation, the vendor will configure the platform to your requirements and offer training to your providers and staff. Sometimes, implementation and training are included in the setup costs; other times, this is an additional fee. Choose a partner with a good track record of supporting and training medical practices at the outset. The implementation and training period plays a big role in a practice's success with any healthcare IT software.
Ease of Use
You want telemedicine software that is easy for your staff and providers to use. Even an advanced platform with a lot of features and tools can be easy to use if the interface is neatly organized and intuitive. Convoluted software will disrupt your practice's workflows and likely make for a negative patient experience as well.
Integrations are a key part of any healthcare IT solution. Ideally, your telemedicine platform will be able to integrate with your EMR software and practice management software. It should also integrate with any third-party applications you use for scheduling, accounting and other regular business operations.
Security is critical in the healthcare space, especially for patient data. Any telemedicine software you consider should be, at the bare minimum, HIPAA compliant. The best telemedicine software employs even stronger encryption than the 128-bit HIPAA standard. It is also important to know whether a telemedicine solution stores any patient health information and, if so, how it secures it. Ideally, no patient health information will be retained by the software or any connected devices.
Additional Features and Hardware
Some telemedicine software offers additional features, such as appointment reminders, follow-up surveys and billing tools. Many platforms also work with connected medical devices, such as stethoscopes and EKGs, which can provide data to providers remotely. To narrow down your options, consider whether you will need these tools.
Pricing and Fees
As always, you should carefully consider pricing and any associated fees. Telemedicine is a relatively new and rapidly evolving space, with models ranging from simple and low-cost to comprehensive and expensive. For example, basic telemedicine software that serves mainly as a video consultation platform is generally less expensive than a platform designed for remote diagnostics and triage. Monthly subscription rates range from less than $100 per provider to more than $800 per provider, depending on the complexity of the system. In some cases, telemedicine platforms are available for purchase by capital expenditure, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes eclipsing the $100,000 mark.
Taking each of these factors into account should make the buying journey easier. Remember, the needs of your medical practice and patients should guide your decision. Choose a system with only the features you need. Your requirements are likely very different from many other medical practices, especially those in other specialties.
Related Healthcare IT Solutions and Medical Practice Services
Many medical practice software solutions and third-party services go hand in hand. For example, an electronic medical records (EMR) system and practice management software are closely related. A medical billing service might work within your practice management software, while a medical transcription service can help you create notes in your patients' charts, which are stored in your EMR system.
If you're looking for a full suite of healthcare IT solutions or additional medical practice services that could help improve the way your practice runs, take a look at our other medical practice review categories.
- Electronic medical records systems: An EMR system contains all the necessary clinical tools for a provider's encounter with their patients. In an EMR system, providers can review their schedules, access patient charts, e-prescribe medication, electronically order lab tests and access lab results. Some EMR systems also include tools to easily review patient histories and map trends in their health over time. An EMR system's ability to integrate seamlessly with practice management software determines how well the administrative and clinical departments work together. It can be an indispensable tool to healthcare providers, but choosing the right one is key. To learn more, see business.com's best picks page and reviews of the top EMR systems on the market today
- Medical practice management software: Medical practice management software helps your front and back offices carry out their daily tasks. It generally includes appointment-setting software, insurance eligibility verification check features and medical billing tools. Medical practice management software also generally includes reporting tools for viewing financial information about your medical practice and charting performance over time. Integrations with EMR systems are essential for medical practice management software, as the two contain relevant information for both the clinical and administrative departments of any medical practice. To learn more, see business.com's best picks page and reviews of the top medical practice management software on the market today.
- Medical billing services: Medical billing services, also known as revenue cycle management (RCM) services, offer a way to outsource your billing department. Medical billing and coding can be complex and time-consuming processes. Maintaining an internal staff for billing and coding can become quite costly. Medical billing services generally work directly within your medical practice management software and perform coding and billing services, including follow-ups on outstanding claims and denial management. Many medical billing companies will also work to get providers at a new practice credentialed with the appropriate payers and provide additional reporting tools to contextualize a medical practice's cash flow. To learn more, see business.com's best picks page and reviews of the top medical billing services on the market today.
- Medical transcription services: Medical transcription services support the creation of internal documentation, patient charts and communications by way of audio dictation. Medical transcription services generally offer multiple ways to securely upload audio dictation and then return a transcript within 24 hours. Some medical transcription services also offer direct EMR entry, plugging in transcribed notes to the appropriate place in an EMR system, saving providers and staff time and effort. To learn more, see business.com's best picks page and reviews of the top medical transcription services on the market today.
Regulations Governing Telemedicine Software
Medical Licenses and Qualifications
While telemedicine allows you to examine and communicate with patients across long distances, federal and state health laws still apply on the internet. You must have a valid license to practice medicine in the state where you work. When using telemedicine to see a patient across state lines, you must also have a medical license for the state they're in.
Any legitimate telemedicine platform will validate your organization's or your credentials when you sign up. While this may bar physicians from practicing anywhere but their home state, as multiple medical licenses can be costly, some states' medical licenses are accepted in other select states. You can check with your state's medical board to find out where your license is accepted.
HIPAA and FDA Compliance
All the services we highlighted for this guide comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the law that guarantees patients' privacy, and with all state medical statutes.
HIPAA is the main reason why telemedicine cannot be performed over simple live chat programs like Skype and FaceTime. Remote interactions between doctor and patient must meet the law's rigorous requirements, so these services feature not only heavy encryption of conversations, but also secured transfer of a patient's personal information and healthcare data to an approved database. Skype and FaceTime do not meet these standards, while telemedicine programs are specifically developed to meet them.
Healthcare professionals using telemedicine services are expected to adhere to the same standards of privacy and recordkeeping they would practice with in-person appointments. The devices you use to remotely monitor and examine patients must be approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration. Reputable telemedicine companies provide only FDA-approved products, but it ultimately falls to you to make sure you're practicing medicine with legally certified technology.
Rules for Writing Prescriptions
The rules for prescribing medication over telemedicine platforms vary from state to state. Some states allow doctors to freely prescribe medication remotely, while others restrict the types of drugs that can be prescribed, limiting narcotics and other controlled substances. Some states do not allow remote prescribing at all, requiring an in-person appointment.
Insurance Companies and Telemedicine
Telemedicine is an emerging platform, with the technology constantly changing and improving. While most (not all) private insurers have some type of coverage for remote care, Medicare and Medicaid plans don't always follow suit.
As of December 2019, 39 states plus Washington, D.C., maintained some version of a telehealth parity law. Telehealth parity laws require private insurers to reimburse telemedicine visits at the same rate as a comparable in-person visit. Because of this, many insurers include telemedicine services and memberships as part of their benefit packages in hopes of keeping clients healthy.
As of December 2019, all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., required some level of Medicaid coverage for telehealth visits, although many of these only allow live video chat and nothing beyond that. Certain state medical boards also have exceptions for telemedicine and Medicaid, so you should check with your local board if you plan to support patients on Medicaid.
With Medicare, a patient can expect to generally pay the same copayment as they would to receive services in person. Medicare telehealth services include office visits, psychotherapy, and other uses of live two-way video and audio feeds. The patient must be at an approved medical facility, not at home. This means geography is an important consideration in whether you should implement telemedicine services for elderly patients on Medicare.
Since insurance can be a tricky obstacle for telemedicine platforms, some allow patients to pay your practice directly through the software, using major credit cards and sometimes FSA or HSA cards.
Community Experts on Telemedicine Software
There are many telemedicine solutions out there, so we asked the experts which ones they use or recommend. The answers varied greatly, as one might expect, depending on an expert's vantage point and particular requirements. Here's what they had to say.
Dilraj Kalsi, lifestyle doctor and founder of Hippocrates Lounge
"As a solo practitioner in my business, I have had to optimize the workflow of my telehealth service, leveraging many different tools and connecting them into a unified experience. Initially, I used Doxy.me, which was really smooth. Unfortunately, they later limited the video quality of the free version and the waiting room became glitchy.
"While I was with Ortus-iHealth, I utilized their app too, which is smooth when a signal is available at either side, but requires a patient login to be set up and an app to be downloaded, making it difficult to integrate with other services from my website.
"Lately I have used Jitsi, as it is free, open source, secure and modifiable."
Brian Harris, founder of dental telemedicine software Smile Virtual
"You can't go wrong with the big players, in my opinion. eVisit has been around for so long they've got a lot of the kinks figured out.
"You want to be careful with more of the small startups, only because you don't know what they don't know. You don't know where they're at as far as security … you're better off just going with market leaders for simplicity's sake and ease of use.
"All of them are different. The ones that work well that I've seen have just got to be seamless. What will keep doctors from using it and keep patients from using it is if it's not user friendly."
Ryan McQuaid, co-founder and CEO of telehealth network PlushCare
"One of the main challenges to [telemedicine] adoption is that you've built your practice and committed to brick-and-mortar infrastructure. Your entire workflow has been seeing patients in person … Virtual care completely changes that dynamic; you need a new workflow and a new system for scheduling that hopefully integrates with your legacy system."
Frequently Asked Questions About Telemedicine Software
The following are FAQs from healthcare providers researching telemedicine software for the first time. Here are some answers for quick reference to help you get started.
How do telemedicine systems work?
At their most basic, telemedicine systems involve a secure, high-definition video and audio connection between a patient and a healthcare provider. Telemedicine systems range from simple video conference tools to perform a secure medical consultation to sophisticated software and hardware combinations for diagnosing conditions and developing treatment plans.
How do you market telemedicine services?
When you begin offering telemedicine services, it's important to let your patients know it is an option. Placing signage in your physical location and notifying patients on your website and social media platforms are the first steps to make them aware of it. Sign-ups for telemedicine services can reduce unnecessary office visits, cancellations and no-shows, saving your practice time and money.
What type of telemedicine solution do you want – an integrated or stand-alone one?
Integrated telemedicine solutions are generally preferable to stand-alone software. Integrated solutions connect to your existing EMR system, practice management software and other third-party applications your medical practice uses every day. Integrations allow the seamless export and import of relevant data from one system to another. Integrations are essential to realize the efficiencies that healthcare IT solutions promise.
What are the software and hardware of telemedicine?
Some telemedicine platforms consist only of software; however, the more advanced solutions can integrate with web-connected medical devices. These include Bluetooth-capable stethoscopes, EKGs and other tools necessary to conduct a full remote examination. For example, GlobalMed's TotalExam 3 camera can be outfitted with multiple attachments to deliver real-time ear, nose, throat or skin exams. In accordance with HIPAA security requirements, it is important that connected hardware does not retain any patient health information.
Is telemedicine covered by insurance?
Telemedicine is covered by insurance at the same rate as physical visits in 39 states plus Washington, D.C., where there are standing telehealth parity laws. Elsewhere, private insurers have sometimes opted to reimburse telemedicine visits on a case-by-case basis. With Medicaid, telehealth reimbursement varies from state to state, though all 50 states offer some form of Medicaid coverage for telemedicine. Medicare coverage is limited to patients engaging in live two-way telemedicine visits from covered facilities, not private homes.
How do you set up telemedicine?
You'll usually set up telemedicine software in concert with the vendor – a process known as implementation. Implementation can take just a few days for simple software or a few weeks for advanced solutions. During the implementation period, vendors will often customize the software to suit your practice's existing workflow. The company will also usually train your providers and staff on how to use the new software properly.
How much does telemedicine software cost?
Telemedicine solutions vary significantly in cost. Some software is available for a monthly subscription, which can be less than $100 per provider or as much as $1,200 per provider. More complex solutions are also available for purchase as a capital expenditure, which can run from the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Capital expenditure models are typically used by large hospitals and health systems, rather than small or midsize independent medical practices.
What are the benefits of telemedicine?
Telemedicine offers an easy and cost-effective way for providers to connect with patients. It allows simple consultations to be done quickly over a remote connection, as well as follow-up visits for patients with chronic conditions. It can reduce the number of no-shows and last-minute cancellations, which saves medical practices time and money. Furthermore, it widens the scope of patients a medical practice can accommodate to include those in isolated or rural areas and those who have a difficult time coming in for a physical visit.
What are examples of telemedicine?
Telemedicine can be used in a number of ways. A primary care physician might use telemedicine to ensure a patient's vitals are in check, especially if they are managing a chronic condition. A psychiatrist might use telemedicine for remote or emergency sessions. A dermatologist might employ connected hardware to examine a patient's skin issues remotely. The possibilities of telemedicine are numerous and varied, depending on your practice's specialty and the needs of your patients.
Does telemedicine software integrate with your existing workflow?
The best telemedicine solutions integrate with existing healthcare IT platforms, including EMR systems and practice management software. Telemedicine implementation should not be overly disruptive to a practice's existing workflow. Rather, it should dovetail with the way a brick-and-mortar medical practice is already run. Look for solutions that are compatible with all your existing systems – or vendors that are willing to build new integrations where they do not yet exist.