What are Telehealth platforms?
In recent years, there has been a significant rise in the number of healthcare practices that have adopted telehealth services. Telehealth refers to the delivery of healthcare services using technology like video conferencing and phone calls. Correlating the increase in this type of healthcare has seen a surge in the development of telehealth platforms; systems that are implemented into healthcare businesses to improve efficiency, organization, and patient management. Given the wide range of platforms that are available to businesses, it can be difficult knowing where to start looking, and this is where we can help. In this guide, we’re going to outline some of the best telehealth platforms that are currently available, so your business can find the perfect system and kickstart your telehealth career!
The pros and cons of Telehealth
Introducing telehealth into your business will incur a wide range of different benefits, including:
- Accessibility: One of the best aspects of telehealth is how accessible it is to patients. It removes accessibility barriers that face patients who live in rural areas or are isolated and allows them to conveniently locate a healthcare business. This has the additional advantage of bringing in a greater number of patients into your practice, and subsequently, increase revenue.
- Patient outcomes: Telehealth has also been shown to improve patient clinical outcomes, which is obviously an area that every healthcare business wants to focus on. With the right tools in place, offering telehealth can reduce emergency visits and readmissions, leading to happier and healthier patients.
- Remote working: Being able to work from home has numerous advantages for both patients and practitioners. Not only does it remove the necessity to travel, organize potential childcare and pay for associated costs, but it also decreases the likelihood of transmitting infectious diseases. Following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, implementing safer work environments like remote working is extremely beneficial.
Despite these clear benefits, it would be remiss of us not to mention the certain disadvantages that may also be linked to telehealth:
- Limited medical examinations: Although there are certain technological devices that can help treat patients virtually, there are nevertheless limits on what types of medical exams can be conducted using telehealth. Hopefully, as the technology continues to improve, new sophisticated tools will be developed that can eliminate these barriers.
- Costs: Whilst telehealth is associated with long-term reductions in costs, the upfront technology and implementation expenses need to be taken into consideration. Furthermore, depending on the platform that you select, you may need to purchase upgraded hardware including computers, microphones, and cameras to ensure your sessions run smoothly.
- Change in regulations: Telehealth is associated with various HIPAA regulations that need to be abided by. It is your responsibility to conduct some research and find out the relevant guidelines pertaining to your location and how these will impact the implementation of telehealth in your business.
Why Telehealth platforms are important
Deciding on the right telehealth platform will likely take you some time, and that is perfectly normal. There are various reasons why finding the perfect platform is important, including:
- Seamless transition: When you decide to implement telehealth into your business, the transition process can be highly stressful. Not only do you need to implement new technology into your business, but you also need to train your staff and ensure your patients know how to use it from their end. With the right telehealth platform, this process will be simplified and the technology will be user-friendly for both patients and practitioners.
- Streamline tasks: A good telehealth platform will be integrated with a wide range of different tools that are designed to streamline administrative tasks. Essentially, this type of technology will save your business both time and money that can be invested elsewhere.
- Organization: Any change in achealthcare business is stressful and can lead to disorganization. The right telehealth platform will organize your data and records for you, where they can be shared and accessed by authorized users at any time. Ensuring organization is consistently managed is a fantastic benefit of telehealth platforms that will elevate the operations at your practice.
- Scheduling: Scheduling telehealth appointments may require slightly different methods than scheduling in-person appointments. Telehealth platforms can help your practice produce an efficient schedule that prioritizes both patient and practitioner needs, leading to both high revenue and an achievable workflow.
Tips to Optimize Your Telehealth performance
Introducing an entirely new method of conducting healthcare can be scary, but there is a multitude of tips that can help make this transition as seamless as possible. Although every business will have its own preferences, we have created a list of some of the key things to look out for in potential telehealth platforms:
- Integration: It is extremely important that whatever telehealth platform you choose can be integrated with the systems already in place at your business. This will save you money, as you won’t have to purchase any additional software or hardware, and will also help operations run smoothly.
- Scalability: Every healthcare business wants to grow, whether that means broadening its clientele, hiring new staff, or introducing different fields of care into the practice. Regardless, in order for this growth to be achieved, the system that you use needs to have scalability features. Many telehealth platforms offer different pricing and feature packages depending on the size of the business, which is a fantastic solution to adjusting to a growing business.
- Patient experience: In order for telehealth to be successful within your business, you need to maintain a focus on the patient experience. You should remember that telehealth is also likely a new experience for patients, and they may feel uncomfortable or unsure about the technology. Be kind and patient, and guide them through the process to ensure they are confident in your services.
- User friendly: As it is likely that both patients and practitioners are new to using telehealth, it is critical that the platform you choose is user-friendly. This will ensure that the transition process is seamless, and every person using the new system can quickly learn the ropes - even those with limited technological experience!
8 of the best Telehealth Platforms
Now that we’ve covered some of the background information, it’s time to look at some of the best available telehealth platforms. Keep in mind that this is a very brief overview of each of these systems, and it is a good idea to conduct some of your own research into the ones that sound interesting!
Carepatron offers a highly integrated telehealth platform that can cater to any healthcare practice’s needs. It comes with sophisticated teleconferencing capabilities, with individual and group features, in addition to clinical documentation storage, appointment scheduling, and medical billing tools. Each of these features will enhance your practice management, allowing you to streamline various tasks and boost efficiency. Carepatron has a free package that is perfect for smaller businesses, and also offers two other plans at $12 and $19 pp/month.
As I’m sure you know, Zoom really took off during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a video conferencing platform that offers scalability and secure communications features that are all HIPAA-compliant. On the other hand, Zoom doesn’t offer many practice management features that are designed for healthcare businesses, and whilst it has a basic free option, to access necessary tools it costs up to $250/year.
Doxy.me is a simple telehealth platform that offers a free version with unlimited audio calls and a virtual waiting room that are both HIPAA-compliant. Whilst it is effective for a small business, however, to access HD video call options and various other features there are associated costs; between $35 to $50/month.
Coviu offers a telehealth platform that can be customized depending on your practice’s needs and is suitable for a wide range of healthcare fields. Coviu is integrated with different apps that can be utilized within telehealth sessions to help both patients and practitioners. Coviu does offer a free trial but has no free long-term package. Its pricing ranges between $25 to $65 pp/month.
Psychology today is one of the biggest telehealth platforms out there. Their telehealth system is available for free if you are a member and considering the popularity of their directory services, it is highly likely that you are already a member. Psychology today is reasonably user-friendly and the platform offers a free BAA and is entirely HIPAA-compliant, ensuring you and your patients are protected at all times.
Betterhelp’s telehealth platform allows healthcare practitioners to message, phone call, and video chat with their patients securely and safely. It is designed to be user-friendly and also offers anonymous patient options, which may encourage patients to reach out and seek help. Betterhelp costs between $60 to $90/week and is billed monthly, so it is fairly expensive.
Google Meet is a highly user-friendly platform that is fantastic for connecting patients to practitioners online. It integrates with calendars, allows for sharing between the desktop, and has an extremely high-quality camera and microphone. However, Google meet isn’t designed solely for healthcare businesses so doesn’t include various practice management features that can be beneficial. Google meet offers a free package, and also has an $8 pp/month plan.
Microsoft Teams has also risen in popularity following the COVID-19 pandemic as it allows patients to quickly and securely access a practitioner using messaging, calling, or videoing features. Microsoft Teams is entirely HIPAA compliant, ensuring that you and your patients are protected. It has a free package, but if you are looking for enhanced features, the plan costs $20 per/month.
Take Home Message
Making the decision to implement telehealth services within your healthcare business is an incredibly exciting venture for your career. In order to ensure this transition occurs as seamlessly as possible, it is important that you conduct some research into finding the best available telehealth platform. Hopefully, this guide has provided you with information regarding some of the options that are available to you, and you are prepared and ready to kickstart your journey with telehealth!