Do You Need Telehealth in Your Practice?

Demand for telehealth and telemedicine has exploded during the pandemic, and it is only expected to keep expanding.

Amid the increased risks of infection, and with remote work and learning becoming the new normal, everything has changed. More patients stay at home or have even temporarily relocated to another city or state —- and online appointments are the new preference.

Having technology that provides a good patient experience is essential for virtual practice, because patients will leave if it’s tedious or difficult. According to a new survey, the number of patients switching health providers solely because of a bad digital experience is up 40% from a year earlier.

What is telehealth vs. telemedicine?

Telemedicine typically includes a full suite of HIPAA-compliant solutions that include video conferencing, electronic medical records, and billing.

Telehealth includes a lighter version of HIPAA-compliant capabilities that can include communications via video and text messaging, plan delivery and patient monitoring.

So what does it take to bring your health practice online?

Hardware and software needs

Whatever platform you use, you will need some basic hardware, software and the right internet connection to speak with patients:

  • Computer or mobile device — your telehealth vendor should be able to tell you if their software can work on a desktop or laptop, tablet, or smartphone
  • Microphone — most devices have microphones integrated, but your patient may need to buy an external microphone if they have an older computer
  • Camera — mobile devices have these integrated, as do most computers. Older devices may need an external camera for video
  • Internet connection — for video, you ideally want to have an internet connection speed of 15mbps if you want clear video. You can test the speed of your internet connection here
  • Video conferencing —- make sure that your software is HIPAA compliant. Many popular video programs, such as Zoom, Skype, and Webex have made HIPAA-compliant versions of their software because of the health emergency.
  • Electronic Health Records (EHR) — HIPAA compliant software that digitizes and securely houses patients’ data, tracks care and outcomes, and supports accurate billing.

Licensure for telehealth vs. telemedicine

When you provide telemedicine to your patients, you will be subject to the telemedicine laws in your state as well as the state in which your patient is receiving your services. It’s essential that you consult with telemedicine legal help to ensure that you don’t inadvertently break the rules of either state — the consequences can be very serious.

What if you want to offer telehealth coaching? In many states, it is legal for you to coach as long as you are not offering medical advice — in other words, using diagnosing and treating language in your consultations. If you have health coaches working alongside you in your practice, they will be able to provide virtual coaching for patients in many states.

Your best bet in either case is to seek legal counsel before you start.

How does Well World fit into telehealth?

Many chronic conditions can be alleviated faster when care plans include nutritional guidance and supplementation. And that’s where Well World fits in best when it comes to telehealth.

Well World was designed to work with our without a telemedicine solution and / or an EMR. We designed it for practitioners who need a HIPAA compliant video and chat solution, but don’t need or want a dedicated, full-featured telemedicine solutions and the associated costs.

Well World enables plan delivery, supplement e-scripting, real-time monitoring, and patient coaching and support for your practice. Well World acts as your virtual mobile health coach that can help your patients make the lifestyle changes that support your care plan.

Because Well World video and chat features are built in, they can be used by your support staff to help patients stay compliant with their care plan, without the need for a separate telemedicine solution.

And if you employ a health coach, you can have them be the point person to check in on patients through the practitioner portal. They can send secure messages to patients through in-app text message or by video chat if they have questions in between appointments.

Well World also helps you save time while serving more patients with automated daily reminders. These useful pop up messages help patients remember to practice healthy habits, keep track of their progress and log their body metrics, food intake, and supplements.

Because all of the self-reported progress displays in your practitioner portal in real-time, you have better and more timely insight into your patients’ compliance and personal adherence their care plan. Your patient’s daily tracking log is more accurate than the anecdotal things that they tell you during their appointments with you. You cannot get this level of compliance detail from an EHR alone.

Do you need a totally virtual practice?

The pandemic has made it difficult for many practitioners to maintain a physical practice. Going virtual can help cut practice costs without losing patients.

If you’re running tests and submitting bills to insurance companies, telemedicine may be the right option for you. Especially if your patients have spread out across the country, telemedicine could be the solution you need to stay in practice.

But if you’re only offering virtual nutrition programs, individual or group coaching, or supplements online, you may not need a full suite of telemedicine solutions.

It’s safe to say that the shift towards virtual medicine is not going away, and practitioners will have to find the right format for working with patients for their practice to adapt. And whatever way forward you choose, Well World can support your practice and your patients virtually — and save you time and effort, while supporting better outcomes for your patients.