Telemedicine Software

by Andreas RiveraLast Modified: January 30, 2018

Intro
Best Picks
Reviews
Pricing
Choosing
Regulations
Insurance
Map
Services
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The Best Telemedicine Software For 2018

Telemedicine services allow you to video chat live with patients, so you can physically exam them, field their questions and concerns, and quickly diagnose simple ailments. These platforms have many applications, including helping you reach patients who are unable to travel or live in rural areas. Telemedicine can get you effectively at a patient’s bedside or even virtually in the ambulance during an emergency situation to immediately begin triage. In addition to applications for doctors and hospitals, telemedicine can be used by researchers and pharmaceutical companies for clinical studies, allowing for quicker and more convenient testing on subjects.

Many telemedicine platforms also use remote biometric devices that let you take standard measurements such as weight, blood pressure and glucose levels. You provide these devices to the patient or other on-site caregivers, and they will often relay their measurements directly to you, requiring only simple instruction for the patient, nurses or approved caregivers.

This emerging platform of communication can save patients money and improve your practice or hospital’s bottom line. According to a study by Red Quill Consulting, the average telemedicine general care visit is $100 cheaper for a patient than an in-office appointment. Telemedicine appointments can also reduce your overhead costs, allow you to see more patients and reduce unnecessary readmissions, ultimately saving you money as well.

Best Picks

Best for General Care
Best for Emergency Care
Best for Psychiatric Care
Best for Instant Care
Best for Dentistry
AMC Health

Best Telemedicine Service for General Care

AMC Health

A check-up via live video chat to a patient at home or in a designated care facility is quick and simple, but still allows you to get a good look at the patient and their condition. In diagnosing a simple ailment, an appointment that might otherwise be an hour-long visit involving several staff members can be reduced to just a few minutes. Patients or assigned caregivers can take biometric measurements with remote devices and upload the data, allowing doctors to further determine a patient’s status and decide if a more in-depth, in-person visit is required.

swyMed

Best Telemedicine Service for Emergency Care

swyMed

Telemedicine can be a life-saving tool for emergency crews rushing to save someone. Video and audio devices can be implemented in ambulances, EMT kits and emergency rooms to allow better communication between emergency responders and the hospital, and between surgeons and off-site specialists. Services designed for emergency care, such as swyMed, allow doctors a view into the ambulance as the patient is en route. Doctors can view a patient’s condition early on, prepare for their arrival and instruct ambulance crews on how to triage the patient.

Talkspace

Best Telemedicine Service for Psychiatric Care or Online Therapy

Talkspace

Telemedicine services designed for mental healthcare allow trained therapists or psychiatrists to quickly and confidentially speak with patients remotely. The added convenience and privacy for prospective patients can allow mental health professionals to expand their clientele while still servicing their regular clients. Teletherapy or telepsychiatry also allows quite a bit of scheduling flexibility for both you and your clients. With services like Talkspace, patients can even text message you through a private app at any time of the day, allowing you to respond at your convenience.

Teladoc

Best Telemedicine Service for Instant Care

Teladoc

Some telemedicine services take advantage of the convenience these platforms and offer almost instant access for patients to live chat with a doctor from their mobile devices. These services pair members with a doctor in their area who can diagnose non-emergency conditions and field health questions. Generally, doctors still operate their own practices, allowing them to see more patients and expand their clientele. With services like Teledoctor, patients can contact you in the moment they need you.

MouthWatch

Best Telemedicine Service for Dentistry

MouthWatch

There are platforms that cater to medical professionals in fields beyond general medical practices. For example, teledentistry allows dentists to expand their reach with remote locations or house calls using a portable intraoral camera to examine teeth over an internet connection. While dentists will always need to conduct in-person appointments for oral operations, telemedicine services like MouthWatch let dentists to reach patients they otherwise couldn’t due to time and geographical restrictions.

Reviews

Pricing

Choosing

Telemedicine is a wide market with hundreds of choices covering dozens of different applications and medical fields. The best service for your practice, therefore, will depend on the kind of care you deliver and the types of services you want. Below we’ve called out several of the best options for different kinds of telemedicine uses, including those for general practice healthcare providers, hospitals and select specialists.

Is Telemedicine Right for My Practice?

Before introducing your telemedicine into your practice, you should be aware of how this shift will change your practice and determine if it’s even a right fit for you at all. Telemedicine comes with several benefits that can boost your practice’s efficiency and expand your clientele; however, you will have to decide how invested you will become in this new direction, especially if you plan to also maintain your physical office and in-person appointments.

Telemedicine is a scalable platform that can be as simple as talking with patients over text messages or as expansive as setting up remote offices, each with its own staff. You’ll need to decide how much time and money you will dedicate to telemedicine, while weighing how much time and money it can save you in return. According to a Geisinger Health Plan study, the estimated return of investment was $3.30 for every $1 spent on a telemedicine program.

Whatever you decide, you and your staff should be prepared to go outside your comfort zone, as any method of telemedicine can change your office dynamic. For example, you may need a staff member dedicated to organizing your online appointments, or have a nurse dedicated to fielding online patients’ concerns before handing them off to you. If you have a smaller practice, you may be capable of handling the telemedicine side of things while your staff takes care of in-house patients, but you’ll want to beware not to undertake too much through telemedicine at the expense of your in-person clientele. On the other hand, you may decide to transition to being a full-time virtual doctor.

Telemedicine in its current form is not without complications, and depending on where you are located, it may be impractical for the time being to implement telemedicine. Laws on telemedicine surrounding licensing, insurance reimbursement, malpractice liability, prescribing medications and privacy are not entirely established and vary from state to state.

Regulations

Medical Licenses & Qualifications

While telemedicine allows you to communicate and examine patients across long distances, it’s important to keep in mind that federal and state health laws still apply on the internet. You must possess a valid license to practice medicine in the state in which you work. When using telemedicine to see a patient across state lines, you must also possess a medical license in the state they’re in.

Any legitimate telemedicine platform will validate yours or your organization’s credentials when you sign up. While this may bar physicians from practicing anywhere but their home state, as multiple medical licenses can be costly, there are some state medical licenses that are accepted in other select states. You can check with your state’s medical board to find out where your license is accepted.

HIPAA & FDA Compliance

All the services we highlighted for this guide are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the law that guarantees patient’s privacy, as well as with all state medical statutes.

HIPAA is the main reason why telemedicine cannot be performed over simple live chat programs like Skype or 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 record-keeping they do with in-person appointments. The devices used to help you remotely monitor and examine patients must be approved by the Federal Drug and Food 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. All the companies listed on this guide to telemedicine are registered by the FDA.

Rules for Prescription Writing

The rules regarding prescribing medication over telemedicine platforms vary from state to state. Some states allow doctors to freely prescribe medication remotely, while others set restrictions on the type of drugs that can be prescribed, namely narcotics and other controlled substances. Some states do not allow remote prescribing at all and an in-person appointment must be scheduled.

Insurance

Telemedicine is an emerging platform with technology constantly changing and improving. While most (but not all) private insurers have some type of coverage for remote care, Medicare and Medicaid plans don’t always follow suit.

Private Insurers

At the time of publishing, only 18 states have legislation requiring private insurers to recognize telemedicine for coverage. Despite having laws in less than half of the country, for the most part, private insurers are embracing this new platform and are rolling out insurance plans that include telemedicine services, though not every provider is doing this. Private insurers are seeing the cost saving benefits of telemedicine, which can lead to less expensive trips to the doctor’s office or emergency room. Because of this, many insurers include telemedicine services and memberships as part of their benefits package in hopes of keeping clients healthy.

Medicaid

There are 16 states that require Medicaid coverage of telemedicine, although a majority of these only allow live video chat and nothing beyond that. Certain state medical boards also have exceptions for telemedicine and Medicaid, so it’s advised you check with your local board if you plan on supporting patients on Medicaid.

Medicare

With Medicare, telemedicine visits can only be conducted for patients living in an approved rural area. The patient must also be at an approved medical facility and not at home. This means geography is an important factor when considering whether to implement telemedicine services for elderly patients on Medicare.

Direct Payment

Since insurance can be a tricky obstacle for telemedicine platforms, some allow patients to directly pay you through the software, using major credit cards and sometimes FSA or HSA cards.

Map

AMC Health
71 Hancock Street
Lexington, MA
AMC Health
Talkspace
1945 Lakepointe Drive
Lewisville, TX
Talkspace
swyMed
254 W 54th Street
New York City, NY
swyMed
AMD Global Telemedicine
4600 East Washington
Phoenix, AZ
AMD Global Telemedicine
LifeBot
807 West Avenue
Austin, TX
LifeBot
Teladoc
18 East 50th Street
New York City, NY
Teladoc
Iris Telehealth
116 New Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA
Iris Telehealth
Spruce
999 3rd Ave.
Seattle, WA
Spruce

Services

List of 10Telemedicine Software

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