Telemedicine: Should I Skype With Patients?

Patient video chats via Skype may be convenient, but the benefits stop there, says HIPAA-compliant CloudVisit Telemedicine

COLD SPRING, NY–(Marketwired – Feb 12, 2014) – We love how quickly and easily we can accomplish things online. We love the internet; it’s that simple. For that reason, and a whole host of other financial and healthcare access benefits, telemedicine is here to stay. As patient demand for online video appointments climbs, doctors are looking around for the best way to offer them. In the early exploration of telemedicine and telepsychiatry nearly every practice has considered—possibly even tried—Skype.
But is Skype with patients safe? Is it even legal? It’s free, we know that. But with a medical license and years’ worth of patient and practice development on the line, is free really best? Before you test the telemedicine waters, keep in mind that Skype is not a telemedicine platform. Carefully consider what you hope to accomplish with patients online and what measures you’ll take to protect your practice. CloudVisit Telemedicine was built as a medical tool, packed with everything a doctor’s office needs to schedule, conduct, and even invoice HIPAA-compliant online video appointments with patients.
CloudVisit Telemedicine CEO and president, Daniel Gilbert, points out, “You basically get what you pay for with Skype. It’s a quick and free way to see friends and business associates online, but it offers no healthcare value, no practice management tools, and no HIPAA protection.”

Skype for telemedicine; what’s missing?

Skype is not HIPAA compliant

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) states that telemedicine and telepsychiatry appointments with patients must be conducted through a fully encrypted, secure video platform and a company with HIPAA-compliant procedures. Those security measures must be guaranteed in writing in the form of a Business Associate Agreement (BAA). Skype’s maker, Microsoft, will not enter into a BAA with its users.
CloudVisit Telemedicine provides every doctor with a Business Associate Agreement for HIPAA compliance. All data and information shared and stored via CloudVisit are fully protected.

Skype is not a medical practice tool

Functionally, all Skype has to offer are on demand video sessions. Imagine trying to manage a day’s worth of on-demand patients. No appointments, no time management, and no assistance from your office manager; just a whole bunch of patients popping up on your computer screen, vying for your time. Sounds like pandemonium.
With CloudVisit Telemedicine, you manage availability with an easy, patient-friendly calendar. Every appointment is just that, a scheduled time when both the patient and the doctor are available and focused on one another.

Skype is free, but that doesn’t mean profitable

When you Skype with a patient, how do you charge them? You can’t use Skype to collect credit card information or to send invoices. That means you have to tell your office manager every time you connect with a patient through Skype. You have to track the time and figure out a way to document which patient you saw, when, and why. What if a patient asks for a receipt? Sorry, Skype can’t help.
In CloudVisit Telemedicine, each patient has their own account complete with credit card details. When you confirm a patient appointment they’re automatically charged, making accounts receivable a breeze for you and your staff. Plus, with prepaid sessions, no-shows are a thing of the past and profitability is priority.
“We want doctors to embrace telemedicine, not fear it. But we also want them to be knowledgeable about the safest and most effective ways to get started. With CloudVisit, patient protection and practice profitability go hand-in-hand,” said Gilbert.
To learn more about seeing patients online with HIPAA-compliant CloudVisit, call 845-809-5770.

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