During the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for telehealth videoconferencing has skyrocketed. According to research firm Frost & Sullivan, telehealth is expected to grow by 64.3 percent in 2020, and it shows no signs of slowing down, even as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is starting to encourage practices to resume in-person visits.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reported a 1,000-percent increase in virtual visits from early March 2020 to June 2020. But telehealth videoconferencing isn’t just limited to connecting patients with their healthcare providers. Some providers use the technology to confer with other medical professionals about patients and discuss treatment plans.
Regardless of how you use telehealth videoconferencing, there are a lot of choices for software. When looking at the options, it’s important to make sure that your choice complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA); even a small violation can mean a large fine.
As you review the choices available, make sure that the solution you select is something that’s user-friendly for both patients and other providers in your practice. The last thing you want is for patients to get frustrated trying to connect to their appointments, or for other practitioners to create noncompliant workarounds.
Here are the top three telehealth videoconferencing solutions for 2020 and beyond that are worth evaluating for your practice.
One component of SimplePractice’s complete practice management solution is completely integrated telehealth videoconferencing. The company advertises that it takes just 30 seconds to get started. You can schedule telehealth appointments directly from the SimplePractice calendar.
SimplePractice’s HIPAA-compliant features are based on what it calls “bank-level encryption.” SimplePractice hosts data in a Tier 1 secure hosting provider that specializes in healthcare data, and it secures its web pages and application programming interfaces (APIs) with 128-bit SSL encryption.
Healthcare practitioners and patients can initiate video calls without logins or passwords. All they need is a secure link generated by SimplePractice. The telehealth solution also allows healthcare providers to share videos and documents like worksheets from their screens.
SimplePractice is free to try for 30 days. The Professional Plan, which allows you to add on the telehealth module, is $59 per month, per clinician.
One of the things that makes Doxy.me so easy to use is that it’s browser-based, meaning you don’t have to download an app to your computer. To use Doxy.me on your mobile device, you need to download either the Android or iOS app. Doxy.me is completely standalone, so you have to enter patient notes manually.
Doxy.me lets you set up virtual waiting rooms for your patients, and you can save meeting histories for later use. The company uses security and encryption protocols to comply with HIPAA as well as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.
It offers a free plan with unlimited minutes and sessions, personalized URLs, waiting rooms, text chat, and meeting history. Plans that include SD and HD video as well as audio-only calls start at $29 per month.
Another standalone telehealth videoconferencing solution is VSee. It not only bills itself as HIPAA compliant but also claims that it works over rural 3G networks, making it ideal for healthcare providers who treat patients in more remote areas.
In addition to video calls, VSee offers the ability to use a virtual waiting room, conduct patient intake, and alert providers when a patient is waiting. You can also connect health trackers or other wearables to VSee to monitor patients remotely.
VSee offers a free plan that lets you host as many video calls as you want and email invitations to your patients. The Basic plan starts at $49 per month, provides a telephone dial-in number, and lets you host small group video calls, which is ideal for therapists running virtual support groups. To add remote patient monitoring or other advanced features, you’ll need to contact VSee for pricing information.
These are just a few of the different choices that healthcare providers have for telehealth videoconferencing. If you use a practice management system, you might also want to check with the software provider to see if they have a telehealth module you can add on, which will save you money and time integrating the software.
Ultimately, what you choose will boil down to the features you need and the user-friendliness of the platform. Evaluate your options, and remember that the best solution for your practice won’t be the same as a colleague’s. With the right solution, you’ll be able to thrive in the world of telehealth.