Telemedicine Software List
Telemedicine Software Buyers Guide
Last updated: April 11, 2021
The telemedicine industry is booming. By the year 2025, it will surpass $64.1 billion in the USA and go beyond $130.5 billion internationally. Thanks to the advances of modern technology, Telemedicine makes it possible for healthcare providers to consult with and care for patients remotely using various software tools.
COVID-19 has further enhanced the importance of telehealth services in the US. In an age where contagious and deadly diseases & viruses are spreading, avoiding physical contact becomes a necessity not only for the sake of the patient but for providers as well. Thus, Telemedicine is a safe solution. Our buyer's guide takes a closer look at types of Telemedicine, its advantages, and disadvantages & the difference between EMR integrated Telemedicine and standalone telehealth products.
We also cover the finer details of the price point for telemedicine solutions and how much payment a provider can expect for such a service.
Types of Telemedicine Software
Telemedicine, also known as virtual healthcare, enables a healthcare provider to see patients remotely. Patients can receive a diagnosis and treatment without waiting for an appointment. Both healthcare providers and patients prevent exposure & don't put themselves at higher risk unnecessarily. Among others, there are three main telemedicine types:
1. Interactive Medicine
Through interactive medicine, patients and physicians can communicate in real-time using HIPAA compliant secure software tools such as phone consultations or video conferences. Also called live Telemedicine, doctors offer services such as evaluating a patient's medical history or performing a psychiatric evaluation.
Example of Collain Healthcare and a Remote Patient Monitoring platform
2. Remote Patient Monitoring
Caregivers monitor home-based patients remotely through Remote Patient Monitoring. Using mobile medical devices, they can collect data and observe changes such as blood pressure or blood sugar.
Elderly patients can benefit from this type of care as their doctors can share the gathered information with them. Vital signs can be sent to providers to adjust patient treatment where necessary.
3. Store and Forward
The store and forward function of Telemedicine allows healthcare providers to share a patient's information with a practitioner located elsewhere. A physician can refer medical data to a specialist without face to face contact. Both these physicians can then work together to manage the patient's health without having to interact with him directly.
The Pros of Telemedicine
As a provider, you can benefit from using Telemedicine:
- Efficient care: Telemedicine software enables providers to diagnose and treat patients. Medical streaming devices are used in real-time, and patients have better outcomes if treatment plans are adjusted if & when needed.
- Expert assistance: Industry specialists can advise you on purchasing the correct equipment. You'll receive practical solutions that will help make the integration and implementation process smoother.
- Increased revenue: Providers can see more patients without hiring additional staff or increasing consulting room space.
The Cons of Telemedicine
It's helpful to know the challenges you may face with Telemedicine:
- Expensive technology: Introducing a new system is both time consuming and pricey. Learning how to use telemedicine software is a costly but worthwhile exercise. Over time you'll adapt and notice an increase in patients & a decrease in staff.
- Limited face to face consultations: Patient mismanagement is a concern, especially with older adults. Errors can occur when the technology might not detect what an in-person meeting could. Virtually a physician also can't treat broken bones or cuts or perform specific tests, so it has its limitations. Patients might still need to be referred to another provider for onsite visits.
Choosing Telemedicine Software for your practice
While selecting a telehealth solution for your practice, you will have the option to either opt for a standalone teleconferencing/ telemedicine solution or to opt for a system that comes integrated with your EMR.
The first thing to do is to get in touch with your EMR provider to ask if they are offering a telemedicine module. Some EMR vendors will either have their software or offer integration with third-party software. For example, Drchrono EMR does not have its telehealth module but offers integration with its partners. The problem is that telemedicine software provided by your EMR vendors or its integrated partners is usually more expensive than the standard teleconferencing app in the market. For example, your vendor can offer you a complete telemedicine module with scheduling for anywhere between $80 to $200. At the same time, a standard teleconferencing app is either free or comes at very nominal charges.
Here are some other differences between EMR integrated with Telemedicine and standalone telehealth products:
Example of EMR Integrated Medicine using PrognoCIS
EMR Integrated with Telemedicine
A telehealth module integrated with your EMR allows you to access all patient data such as medications, histories, past soap notes while conducting a telehealth visit. It also enables you to automatically make updates to a patient's record in real-time without having to transfer or copy your notes in the system like you would have to do if your telehealth system does not integrate with your EMR.
There is also the apparent advantage of dealing with a single vendor; you do not have to go to and fro between two companies to fix an issue when it does arise.
Example of Standalone Telehealth Products using Doctor on Demand
Standalone Telehealth Products
Standalone telemedicine platforms don’t necessarily interface with your EMR. You can pay a monthly subscription fee for access to the software.
Price Point for Telemedicine Software
Average telemedicine software costs can range from as little as $25 per user monthly up to $600. There are many excellent software packages available, and the prices vary dependent on features included. If you’d like to add more applications in your software suite, you’ll pay more. Some vendors also offer a pricing model based on per visits. Get in touch with our consultants at softwarefinder or the EMR vendor to understand their pricing models and what would work best for you.
Be sure to clarify whether a telemedicine system requires a minimum number of users, as this also influences the cost. It’s always advisable to determine what the once-off and ongoing costs will be so you can budget accordingly.
In addition to purchasing software, consider the hardware expenses involved. These aren’t usually included. You’ll need to make provisions for carts, cases, a digital telescope, an examination camera, and wall mounts, among other items.
Negotiating the contract
While negotiating the contract, try not to opt for extended term contracts. Either request for a free trial or opt for a system with a month to month contract. You can learn more about these offerings by EMR vendors at the bottom of this article.
Reimbursement of Telemedicine Services
Till now, there is a lot of confusion regarding the laws that govern telemedicine setup and payments. The federal, state, and private payors all differ in what constitutes telemedicine and its coverage. It is essential, thus, to get in touch with your malpractice insurer and top private payors to get their input on the laws governing your practice.
Telehealth parity laws in some states require private payors to reimburse telemedicine services. Private payers are required to pay for video conferencing in all states with parity laws. However, payment for telemedicine services may not be the same as onsite services.
There are also differences in who can or can't provide telehealth services. Legal healthcare providers offering telemedicine services include:
- clinical nurse specialists
- clinical psychologists and social workers
- nurse practitioners
- physician assistants
- registered dietitians or nutrition professionals
According to the CCHP’S 2019 findings:
- 50 states and Washington DC currently offer reimbursement for some form of live video conferencing in Medicaid fee for service
- 14 state Medicaid programs reimburse store and forward options
- 22 state Medicaid programs reimburse RPM services
The states of Alaska, Arizona, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Washington provide reimbursements for all three types of telemedicine services, while California & Connecticut reimburse eConsultations.
There are changes to these laws under COVID-19 that are discussed below.
Latest Updates to Telemedicine in 2020
Due to COVID-19, massive changes have been made by the government on laws regarding telemedicine. Greater flexibilities have been offered both by Medicare and private insurers to encourage physicians to set up telemedicine in their practices. These flexibilities include:
- Pay parity for telehealth visits. It means that providers get paid the same amount that they would have received for an in-office visit
- The originating site requirement has been waived. Providers can now see patients in the comfort of their homes rather than a designated rural area or a healthcare facility.
- There are waivers in place, for the time being, to see patients across state lines
- Providers can use non-HIPAA compliant software such as face time, WhatsApp to deliver patient care during the emergency.
You can learn more about COVID-19 waivers in our webinar " Adopting telemedicine successfully in the times of COVID-19"
EMR Vendors telemedicine offerings during COVID-19
To facilitate the adoption of telemedicine software in 2020, top EMR vendors are providing free or discounted telemedicine software during the pandemic. Some of the offerings include:
- AdvancedMD is providing free telemedicine features until the end of May. Providers can opt either for their standalone telemedicine solution or telemedicine integrated with AdvacedMD EMR.
- Prognocis EHR, Chartlogic & WRS healthcare are providing free telemedicine module to all their clients.
- ChartPerfect is offering discounted telemedicine functionality to its clients.
You can learn the details about the top EMR vendor COVID-19 telemedicine offering here.
Telemedicine is now being used in homes, hospitals, private physician offices, and other healthcare facilities. At a time when more and more patients require assistance, telemedicine could be the solution you’re looking for. You’ll be able to serve the ill, flatten the curve of raging viruses through reduced physical contact, and ultimately reach & help more patients.