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Updox

The Updox Communication Platform helps you deliver the best virtual and in-person care so you can focus on what matters most—your patients. Updox works seamlessly with most EMRs, and we provide healthcare providers with improved c...Read more about Updox

4.2 (111 reviews)

20 recommendations

athenaOne

FrontRunners 2024

The athenaOne Suite which includes athenaCollector a revenue cycle management solution and athenaClinials an EHR (electronic health records) recently ranked #1 in 2023 Best in KLAS for athenaClinials Ambulatory EMR for 11-75 physi...Read more about athenaOne

3.8 (848 reviews)

17 recommendations

SecureVideo

FrontRunners 2024

SecureVideo is a cloud-based telehealth platform. Designed to deliver the best possible experience, it's easy-to-use, low cost and HIPAA Compliant. We're here to help with friendly customer support experts who will take the time t...Read more about SecureVideo

4.8 (26 reviews)

16 recommendations

Buzz

Buzz® from Skyscape® is your comprehensive, HIPAA-compliant healthcare platform, designed for healthcare agency stakeholders, administrators, and providers. It is a powerful tool that fosters seamless patient care and coordination...Read more about Buzz

5.0 (7 reviews)

16 recommendations

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CareNiva

CareNiva is a new telehealth platform that helps providers build self service telehealth practice by automating visits and diagnosis detection by leveraging technology and data to efficiently deliver telehealth to patients regardl...Read more about CareNiva

No reviews yet

5 recommendations

Upvio

Upvio is a telehealth software offering medical, health and wellness professionals powerful technology tools including feature-rich appointment scheduling, digital medical forms, video calls, virtual waiting rooms, asynchronous an...Read more about Upvio

4.8 (55 reviews)

4 recommendations

Klara

Klara’s patient engagement platform helps medical practices consolidate multiple patient outreach tools into one platform while automating key touch points throughout the patient journey. Interfaced with your EHR, Klara offers two...Read more about Klara

4.5 (15 reviews)

2 recommendations

AdvancedMD Telemedicine

AdvancedMD offers a fully unified suite of patient-focused technologies called AdvancedMD @home. This patient engagement collection makes it easier for you to create a robust and scalable practice to treat patients when and where ...Read more about AdvancedMD Telemedicine

3.0 (1 reviews)

2 recommendations

SimplePractice

SimplePractice is a cloud-based practice management system built to make the business side of private practice easier. Our easy-to-use and HIPAA-compliant software helps health and wellness professionals automated their day-to-day...Read more about SimplePractice

NextGen Office

FrontRunners 2024

NextGen Office is an award-winning, cloud-based, clinical and billing solution designed for smaller, independent practices (≤ 10 providers). This all-in-one, full-service solution includes specialty-specific EHR content, an easy-t...Read more about NextGen Office

Tebra

FrontRunners 2024

Looking to harness the full power of the Tebra platform? Our practice success platform includes a certified electronic health record solution built to empower today’s providers with robust clinical charting, streamlined documentat...Read more about Tebra

Doxy.me

FrontRunners 2024

Doxy.me is a telemedicine solution designed for healthcare providers and mental health practices of all sizes. The solution is HIPAA compliant and offers a secure platform, video conferencing, and virtual waiting room features. Do...Read more about Doxy.me

TheraNest

TheraNest is an HIPAA compliant web-based mental health solution used by solo practitioners, large mental health practices, and nonprofit organizations. The solution is suited for therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and soci...Read more about TheraNest

TherapyNotes, LLC

TherapyNotes is a cloud-based mental/behavioral health software system that includes electronic health records (EHR), a patient portal, patient scheduling and medical billing. The solution is suitable for practices of all sizes, i...Read more about TherapyNotes, LLC

Mend

FrontRunners 2024

Launch your Behavioral Health Telemedicine program today. Mend is the #1 cloud-based CCBHC / CMHC communication solution that enables patients and providers to connect and share files, messages, assessments, photos and data. Use...Read more about Mend

BlueJeans Meetings

BlueJeans is a cloud-based video conferencing solution that helps mid to large size businesses with text chat, content sharing, multiple participants and meeting recording. Blue Jeans delivers services through products including B...Read more about BlueJeans Meetings

DrChrono

FrontRunners 2024

DrChrono’s iPad and iPhone compatible EHR and medical billing platform allows medical practices and healthcare providers to manage patient intake, patient care, clinical charting, billing and revenue cycle management. It includes ...Read more about DrChrono

WebPT

Established in 2008, WebPT is the nation’s most trusted outpatient rehab therapy software platform in the country, helping more than 150,000 rehab therapy professionals from all practice sizes and specialties run successful and ef...Read more about WebPT

RXNT

FrontRunners 2024

RXNT’s cloud-based, ONC-certified medical software—Billing, Practice Management, EHR, and more—improves clinical outcomes & revenue cycle management. Simple, transparent pricing includes free setup and training, free data transfer...Read more about RXNT

Pabau

FrontRunners 2024

Pabau's all-in-one software is built to handle everything that clinics (both large and small) need to run smoothly. Forget spreadsheets, integrations, paper notes and scanning — do it all from one easy to use tool. - Save 12+ ...Read more about Pabau

Buyers Guide

Last Updated: January 09, 2024

What is Telemedicine software?

Telemedicine software is any technology that enables medical providers to diagnose or treat patients remotely using secure telecommunications tools like video chats, phone, email, etc.

It’s easy to see why you should start offering telemedicine services at your practice, but it can be hard to evaluate software solutions. Do you want a system that integrates with Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)? How do you make sure it’s HIPAA-compliant? What pricing model aligns with your budget? What the heck is a virtual waiting room?

In this buyers guide, we’ll help you answer all of these questions and more so you can offer virtual consultations through a new system as soon as possible.

Here's what we'll cover:

Telehealth vs. Telemedicine

The words "telehealth" and "telemedicine" are very often used interchangeably, but there is a key difference that users should be aware of.

Telemedicine specifically covers all remote tools and processes that allow doctors to see and treat patients remotely. It only refers to clinical services.

Telehealth, on the other hand, includes all remote clinical and non-clinical services. For example, doctors can use telehealth to attend remote administrative meetings and participate in continued medical education.

To summarize, telemedicine is a type of telehealth, but not all telehealth is telemedicine.

Telemedicine Use Cases and Definition

Before we start talking about software, we need to address our use of the term "telemedicine," since it can refer to a variety of scenarios where health care services and information are delivered through technology, including the following examples:

examples-of-telemedicine

Though all of these can be telemedicine use cases, most software solutions focus on facilitating virtual care between patients and physicians through video conferencing and secure messaging. In order to align our Buyer’s Guide with the health IT market, we’ll also be referring to telemedicine software as technology to enable remote patient-physician interactions through online video and messages.

Telemedicine Software Benefits

In a Gartner report (which is available to Gartner clients), analysts predict that one-quarter of all care in the U.S. will be delivered virtually by 2020. While adoption rates may not rise quite that quickly in your part of the country, it’s clear that there’s increasing demand for virtual care, and it can only benefit your practice if you start incorporating telemedicine software sooner rather than later.

In a Software Advice survey of U.S. patients who have never participated in a telemedical visit, 75 percent tell us they are at least "moderately interested" in having a video consultation instead of an in-person visit for a minor health issue, such as a rash or cold symptoms.

Because industry experts and patients both see value in this tech, you have a good chance of increasing revenue after implementing it. For example, you can expand your patient panel by seeing patients who live in rural areas and extend your office hours without adding staff or overhead costs.

In addition to the financial benefits, there are clinical advantages to practicing telemedicine. Because it’s more convenient for patients to schedule a telemedicine appointment, they are more likely to seek treatment from a primary care physician or specialist. The earlier you can detect a health issue, the better chance a patient has of responding favorably to the treatment plan.

Here are some additional advantages from our report, "Telemedicine Benefits Small Practices Can Capitalize On":

Top Telemedicine Benefits

Top-Telemedicine-Benefits

Common Functionality of Telemedicine Software

You can’t just open a Skype account and expect it to meet your needs for virtual care delivery. In addition to EMR integration (which we’ll cover in detail in the next section), a telemedicine platform should offer many of these functionalities:

Encryption/security protocols

Data security features, such as encryption, make it possible to keep sensitive patient data safe and private for all your online consultations.

Video conferencing

Enables face-to-face interactions on a computer or mobile device with high quality video and audio. Some solutions also allow screen sharing and multiway video so third parties (such as caregivers or translators) can also participate in a virtual consultation.

Instant message chat

Allows doctors to exchange text-based messages with patients in real time before, during or after an appointment.

Appointment setting

Patients are able to schedule telemedical appointments themselves by logging onto the system and selecting an available time slot from a calendar provided by your staff.

Billing

Collect insurance information and process payments for each encounter.

Virtual waiting room

A customizable site that allows patients to wait for a digital appointment to begin. You can add pictures or videos for patients to see while they stand by.

Clinical documentation

Document patient encounters with digital notes and/or charts.

E-prescribing

Create and send prescriptions to a patient’s pharmacy of choice.

Telemedicine EMRs vs. Stand-Alone Platforms

You have two main choices when it comes to telemedicine software: a stand-alone platform or an EMR suite that includes telemedicine functions in addition to other applications, such as accounting or a patient portal.

The easiest way to figure out which option is best for you is to determine whether it’s the right time to invest in a new EMR.

If so, it makes sense to choose a system that already has telemedicine functions built-in. Maybe you’ve been planning on replacing your current EMR, or perhaps you’re starting a new practice. Either way, it shouldn’t be tough to build a shortlist of solutions that fit the bill.

A growing number of EMR vendors are acquiring or partnering with companies that exclusively focus on facilitating telemedicine services. As a result, it’s much easier to use a single system for all your clinical services and documentation needs without having to do duplicate data entry.

Pricing for this kind of setup is significantly different from vendor to vendor. Cost estimates will largely depend on the size of your practice and how many applications you want to include in your software suite.

Since it’s possible to update health records seamlessly, telemedicine-enabled EMRs are best for practices that plan to offer virtual consultations to existing patients. However, even though that’s the desirable route, it doesn’t totally exclude practices hoping to attract new patients online through the telemedicine software (more details about that scenario below).

Examples of telemedicine EMRs:

Practitioners who are happy with their current EMR solution can always check with their vendor to see if the company now offers a telemedicine module or easily integrates with a third-party telemedicine solution. Keep in mind additional fees may apply for the added module.

The alternative is investing in a stand-alone telemedicine platform that may not interface with your EMR. That’s totally OK in many cases. Most stand-alone platforms allow you to schedule, bill and request medical histories from patients, so you don’t need an integrated EMR or practice management system for any of that.

Some stand-alone platforms even attract patients for you. Here’s how it works: Patients sign up for a virtual appointment with the first available doctor on the telemedicine platform and then they’re matched with you or another provider on the same platform. In this model, practitioners serve as independent contractors who are paid a percentage of whatever the patient pays per visit.

That service is optional for some stand-alone telemedicine systems, so the cost of ownership will again vary significantly from vendor to vendor. However, many systems charge a monthly subscription fee per physician for access to the software.

Examples of stand-alone telemedicine software:

  • American Well

  • Teladoc

  • eVisit

  • Doctor on Demand

  • Doxy.Me

  • WeCounsel

Key Considerations

Here are some important factors to think about before you implement a telemedicine solution:

HIPAA compliance. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a series of mandates that protect patient records against unauthorized access. You’re off to a good start if you’re evaluating telemedicine solutions that have the security protocols we described in our features table above, but that’s just the first step to achieving HIPAA compliance. In order to safeguard patient privacy and security while abiding by the law, you need to conduct a risk assessment. That is an overview of your current security measures and potential vulnerabilities.

Regulatory requirements. Telemedicine regulations are still being worked out in legislatures across the country. As health IT writer Cathy Reisenwitz recommends, "you may want to look into resources like the ATA State Telemedicine Legislative & Regulatory Trackers for updates on telemedicine policy. Regulations vary by state, so you need to research how insurance companies cover telehealth visits in your area."