With telemedicine, providers are empowered to think about healthcare outside of the walls of their clinics and organizations, so they can provide care when and where patients need it most. However, not all virtual care solutions provide the same level of configurability, safety and security, and support. Virtual care solutions and telehealth software can be complete, end-to-end solutions that empower providers to provide care virtually and manage their entire practice online, or can be limited to only video-conferencing or scheduling. We’ve developed an outline of the various telehealth software options to help inform your decision as you choose a virtual care vendor.
Video conferencing solutions:
There are a number of video conferencing solutions on the market today that focus only on the virtual encounter or virtual component of the healthcare appointment. Although video conferencing may be cloud-based and work on all types of devices and browsers, its singular purpose is to allow colleagues and friends to connect over high-quality video. Only some video conferencing solutions are optimized with security features like 256-bit encryption and are healthcare compliant under The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in Canada, and The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the U.S. Plus, unlike an end-to-end solution with features like scheduling, digital intake and more, video conferencing encourages only singular touch points between people. This means that it lacks features that easily provide a holistic provider and patient experience. Although it can be integrated into a healthcare enterprise’s existing EMR (Electronic Medical Record) or EHR (Electronic Health Record), it doesn’t always seamlessly connect to existing infrastructure, so providers are forced to toggle between multiple digital systems to complete pre, during, and post appointment tasks. While video-conferencing may be useful for businesses and colleagues to connect remotely, it’s not necessarily the optimal solution for healthcare clinics and enterprises looking to digitize their whole provider and patient experience while providing .
Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or Electronic Health Record (EHR) software:
EMRs or EHRs enable providers to securely store and access patient health data, chart notes, and documentation digitally. Although EMRs are healthcare compliant, they lack several important patient management features like digital booking, intake, and delivery of the full patient experience. Although they may have integrated video conferencing into their software during the pandemic, the integration often does not take into account the many security, privacy, and technical challenges associated with this feature. With EMRs, providers are unable to automate their patient onboarding experience by allowing patients schedule appointments, provide informed consent, and share payment information for a holistic telemedicine experience. EMRs are designed to service the provider and do not account for the full virtual care and telehealth experience, which begins with a scheduled appointment, includes video conferencing, and ends with provider follow-up.
Vertical specific platforms:
Not unlike an email system, vertical-specific telemedicine solutions are a secure way for patients, their primary care provider, and their specialist to connect digitally. These systems are most commonly used by dermatologists, radiologists, and other specialists who don’t necessarily require video conferencing or other meeting tools to provide care. Through these systems, providers can share information back and forth with a patient and other providers to diagnose, follow up, and provide additional information to healthcare teams. Although this software may connect whole healthcare teams to provide optimal and holistic care to patients, it lacks virtual care features that work in any clinical setting, such as schedule options, and payment and automated billing, which help to round out a patient’s digital healthcare experience. Vertical-specific platforms work in specific healthcare settings and are not optimized for every healthcare provider or organizations who provide more than just primary care.
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) software:
DTC telemedicine software allows providers to meet with patients through video, phone, or instant messaging. Patient information is often stored in the healthcare compliant software under HIPAA and PIPEDA, which means that providers can easily leverage it to treat patients and store data securely. DTC equips its own provider network with technology to instantly connect providers and patients in minutes for their one-time medical care needs. Although patients can receive care within minutes, providers using DTC are not the patient’s usual provider, don’t know the patient’s history, and in this case, are only addressing a single healthcare question. This “doctor of the day” model fractures the extremely important relationship between a provider and their patient. Often, a patient’s main provider is not notified about this healthcare visit, doesn’t know about the patient’s treatment, and cannot continue providing care as needed. DTC platform also retain a dollar percentage of every appointment, and most importantly, do not allow for continuity of care for patients with chronic or long-term healthcare needs.
End-to-end telemedicine solutions:
Our opinion is that complete virtual care and telemedicine solutions like OnCall Health is a smart investment for the short and long term growth of a healthcare organization, startup, and large clinic. End-to-end solutions account for more than just the virtual encounter between a patient and provider. They include features that address every stage of the patient journey, like online scheduling and triaging, digital intake and onboarding, charting and note storage, outcomes measurements, and more. Not only is this software healthcare compliant, but it allows providers to access digital automations to reduce operational inefficiencies, creates continuity of care by allowing providers to treat and follow up using one platform, and elevates the patient experience with custom branding and support options. With virtual care software subscription models like OnCall, healthcare organizations retain 100% of their revenue while using a platform that is built for their unique needs and clinical setting. OnCall also supports your team with workflow mapping, 24/7 technical support, user guides, and ongoing provider training as your organization transitions to digital healthcare. This helps fast-track growth so providers and organizations can continue to provide positive patient experiences.