Last week, we talked about what’s next in telehealth technology, and, the week before that, I introduced you to some mHealth companies you need to know. This week, we’re getting all into the nitty-gritty. That’s right. I’m comparing some telemedicine software options. Buckle up, buckaroos.
In January of last year, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that physicians could use a telehealth visit to meet the requirement for a face-to-face visit before ordering home health services for Medicare patients.
“Standing in front of medical boards even five years ago was like a crucifixion,” American Well CEO Roy Schoenberg told Telemed Mag. “And today they’re inviting us to come in and help them, literally help them write their new regulations to embrace safe telehealth.”
Telemedicine has come a long way, baby.
But what hasn’t changed is that you need tech to offer telehealth services. Below I’ve compared five telemedicine software platforms that support HIPAA compliance to help you choose which to investigate further.
Doxy.me is an incredibly easy-to-use telemedicine software solution that is free for individual clinicians. Patients don’t have to download anything or log in anywhere to video or text chat with physicians.
When asked what one trend really excites him, Founder Brandon Welch responded, “User-centered design. With so many simple and elegant solutions becoming available now, I have no patience for poorly designed services anymore.”
Coincidentally, Welch said, if he had to choose one book to recommend, he’d go with Start with Why by Simon Sinek, which is a favorite at Capterra too.
Doxy.me supports multi-provider practices and offers patient queue management. In addition, Capterra reviewers appreciate the ease of use, easy setup, and customer support.
It’s a little light on the practice management side. It’s missing appointment reminders, online appointment scheduling, e-prescribing, and practice management. It also doesn’t integrate with any EHRs.
Starts out free, but for multi-provider practices and white labeling, paid plans start at $29/month/user.
While not a strictly telemedicine company, many consider Zoom the best videoconferencing app around. And it offers HIPAA compliance along with screen sharing. If you need your videoconferencing to just work, on any device, at any connect speed, Zoom is your best bet.
Easy to use, no download or sign on for patients. Capterra users absolutely love it.
HIPAA compliance requires a minimum monthly purchase of $200, either through a business plan or an API partner plan. A signed BAA is required for this contract.
Also, no EHR integrations and no practice management features.
Starts at $200/month for HIPAA compliance.
Sherpaa is not software a healthcare center adopts. It’s a platform employers and individuals contract with to provide telemedicine. Sherpaa hires its own doctors and matches patients with providers.
The other interesting thing about Sherpaa is that it focuses on facilitating asynchronous communication, aka texting, between doctors and patients. Apple claims to transmit about 40 billion iMessages per day, compared to about 15-20 million FaceTime chats. If people don’t want to video-chat with their friends, why would they want to FaceTime their doctors? Sherpaa is taking the tack that it’s better to give people what they want than try to change their behavior.
While Sherpaa allows for video calls, only 2% of patient/doctor communications happen that way. Founder Jay Parkinson sees photos and text messaging as ideal because no one is on the spot. Doctors get time to read up on cases before making recommendations and patients get to ponder their questions and answers. For individual doctors, Sherpaa is a good deal, in that it handles insurance claims and co-pay billing for you.
It’s only working with one hospital system, as of now. There’s no central repository of patient medical records.
Patients pay $40/month for the app, email, and text access to a group of five or six doctors who can prescribe drugs, order lab tests, and make referrals.
Like Sherpa, American Well offers a platform where patients can find a doctor through an app, but it also offers a SaaS that enables medical practices to provide telemedicine.
Unlike Sherpaa, American Well is centered around the video call. After logging in, there’s a list of doctors. If the circle next to their name is yellow, they’re seeing patients. Users can wait to be seen. If they’re green, they’re available to see patients right now. According to this reviewer, usually, one or two docs are green.
One important advantage American Well has over the competition is that it integrates with Cerner. It also appears American Well offers physicians more than Sherpaa in the realm of practice management. “The vast majority of our business is spending time with the physicians and the health systems, doing all of the things that are less popular and less public, things like EMR integration, dealing with insurance and eligibility, dealing with physician workflow.”
For instance, it handles appointment scheduling and helps you take payments online. It also offers e-prescribing and integrates with Apple Health for easier remote monitoring. For working with insurance, American Well’s partnerships with several large health plan clients offer resources and support to help maximize your revenue.
Patients have to log in and download a plugin to use the video-conference functionality.
Contact sales for pricing.
WeCounsel is definitely aimed at behavioral health providers and practices, but anyone can use it to provide telemedicine.
WeCounsel has a lot of great features, including online appointment scheduling and appointment reminders, along with online payment, insurance eligibility checks, and insurance claim submission. During visits, you can share your screen with clients.
The cloud-based practice management stores notes and documents on your clients, which you can share with any provider in your practice. But what kept coming up in Capterra reviews were the great customer service and user onboarding and education. WeCounsel really wants its users to succeed, and offers daily provider training and will do a test call with you whenever you need one.
No EHR integrations. No e-prescribing.
Starts at $24.99/month/user.
According to research from the third largest benefits broker in the US, Willis Towers Watson,
this year 80 percent of employers will require telehealth services for their employees. “If that number actually pans out, this will become the fastest adopted healthcare benefit in American history,” Schoenberg said.
“I think it’s a little bit absurd that in traditional health care our health stories have to be told within the confines of 10-minute office visits,” Sherpaa’s Parkinson said. “That’s not really how health stories work. Things evolve and it is important to let people communicate those evolutions over time, around a core case.”
If none of the above solutions meets your needs, check out our telemedicine software directly to compare other vendors and narrow down your options by feature.