Not every doctor can entertain in-person visits.
When health crises are happening and epidemics like COVID-19 are surging across the globe, healthcare providers face a significant problem: welcoming everyone with a cough or fever to a clinic—especially in the midst of flu season—would completely overwhelm their resources.
Luckily, healthcare providers today have a ton of options to better connect doctors and other front-line providers with patients so that medical attention and care are less affected by stay-at-home orders.
For example, there are lots of good video conferencing apps that let doctors and psychiatrists see patients and offer remote treatment.
Some of these video conferencing apps even come with features like screen sharing and chat messaging. If you’re one of the many practices that are starting to adopt telehealth technologies, then using a video conferencing tool is absolutely crucial to running a remote-friendly healthcare practice.
With so many options available on the market, you must now answer a single question: which tool is the right one for you?
In this post, we’re going to explore:
- 4 ways you can use video conferencing to improve patient care
- The 5 best video conferencing software for healthcare providers
4 ways that healthcare providers can use video conferencing to provide a better patient experience
Of course, there’s no substitute for one-on-one time. Plus, if a provider’s patients aren’t used to video conferencing, the whole experience might seem a bit odd or uncomfortable at first.
But there are a few things you can do to make sure that patients have a positive experience where all their needs are met and everyone walks away satisfied.
1. Coordinate care more easily
Anyone who’s been passed from one doctor to another knows the stress that can happen when this isn’t done smoothly.
Having the common cold is one thing, but for patients with complex health conditions, seeing multiple doctors is often unavoidable.
That doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. Video conferencing allows providers to ease these transitions and better coordinate care between multiple specialists.
2. Provide stronger continuity of care
One of the biggest struggles that healthcare providers face is when patients fail to adhere to their treatment plans, which ties into things like missing their appointments.
With video conferencing, healthcare providers can make it easier for patients to show up to appointments (since they don’t even have to leave their homes), meaning there’s a stronger chance that they’ll stick with their care plan in the long run.
Shopping for a video conferencing tool? (Or just curious about what to look for?) Download this free checklist to help you choose the right one for your team or business.
3. Make life easier for patients
Have you ever had to take a huge chunk of time out of your day to go to a simple follow-up appointment at the doctor’s office?
Or sat in a waiting room for way longer than you anticipated?
Going into the doctor’s office can sometimes come with a side of headaches and frustration, but you can easily minimize this by using video conferencing.
4. Provide better care access for rural patients
Some patients just don’t have the luxury of owning a car or living near convenient public transit routes.
This can have a devastating impact for people who can’t get to the doctor when they need to.
The 5 best video conferencing software for healthcare providers
RingCentral Video is a powerful video conferencing software for healthcare providers. Designed for interactive communications and open exchange, you can start a call from a computer, tablet, or phone using the app:
The video conferencing app allows different specialists and care teams to work together in real time with patients over video calls from any location, on any device. This massively speeds up actions and decisions associated with patient care.
Not only does this give you a means to serve more patients, but it’s also super helpful for patient discharge where it’s crucial to be sure that your patients are okay to go home, for example.
“RingCentral plays a mission-critical role in helping us build strong relationships with the patients we serve, while also allowing us to keep their information confidential and secure in accordance with HIPAA. We also found RingCentral’s platform to be completely seamless with its integrated contact center solution and open platform APIs to customize workflows.” – Hernando Celada, CIO at ChenMed
To start using RingCentral Video, all you have to do is download the app onto your PC, Mac, iOS, or Android device. But if all you want to do is join a virtual meeting, you can just click a link and use a web browser.
As a bonus, RingCentral integrates with other healthcare apps like:
- Flex – See information about your patients before you even pick up the phone. It scans your practice management system for details about your caller like when their next appointment is, how many times they’ve missed appointments, if they have insurance (and when that renews), and more
- Call Optimizer – Like Flex but designed for dentists, audiologists, optometrists, and veterinarians. When a patient calls your practice, you’ll instantly see relevant information such as their last call date, accounts receivable, recent appointments, remaining insurance balance, even hygiene status!
RingCentral is a PCMag’s Editors’ Choice Award winner because of its reliable service and easy-to-use app (among other reasons)!
RingCentral Video comes included with RingCentral Office® , which you’ll find in four pricing tiers: Essentials, Standard, Premium, and Advanced.
🕹️ Get a hands-on look at how RingCentral works by booking a product tour:
💰 You can also use this calculator to see roughly how much your business could save by using RingCentral to support your team’s communications with patients and each other.
The Standard plan costs $24.99/month per user and offers video meetings that last up to 24 hours (for those extra-long consults). There’s no limit on the number of users, and you get unlimited internet fax and audio conferencing as well. Phone calling, business SMS, and instant messaging capabilities are also offered in each of the Office plans.
2. Chiron Health
As a leading telemedicine software provider, Chiron Health aims to make routine checkups more convenient and easier—for both the patients and the healthcare providers.
Its cloud-based video conferencing software connects you with patients over secure video visits and receive reimbursements through private payers. Direct integrations with your EHR (electronic health record) or PM (practice management) software mean no duplicate work is needed. You can schedule in your existing software and the data will be automatically synced to Chiron Health.
The biggest draw of the software is custom branding—you can display the logo of your clinic or practice in the patient-facing video tool. While other software on the list allow for unbranded video calls, Chiron Health is a good option for healthcare providers that want to ensure their brand’s continuity and loyalty with a branded video conferencing solution.
Other noteworthy features include automated email notifications for patients, SMS patient marketing, and telemedicine eligibility check. Patients can connect with you from anywhere with Chiron Health’s Android and iOS mobile apps.
The downside of Chiron Health is that it lacks a range of features. While other software on our list, like RingCentral Video, have robust options for providers to streamline the patient scheduling experience using omnichannel patient routing and patient profiles, Chiron Health falls a bit short in this area. Plus, it’s a lot more expensive than other options on our list.
Chiron Health’s pricing starts from $150/month per provider. The cost goes down to $120/month per provider if you sign up for annual billing, which works out to be about $1,440/year.
The tool also offers a plan for healthcare businesses with multiple practice locations, appointment types, and specialists. Interested firms can contact Chiron Health directly to get a quote.
Although Chiron Health comes without any implementation or upfront fees, the high price tag might make you think twice before investing in the software.
If you’re looking for a video conferencing tool that’s fully compatible with telehealth software and equipment, TrueConf might be a good option for you.
It comes with the ability to capture video from several kinds of equipment (e.g., endoscopes), transfer DICOM files, and demonstrate your show and desktop slides. Courtesy of dual video technology (where you can capture two different desktops at the same time), your video quality will remain high regardless of the content you are streaming.
Plus, you get the option to stream webinars, deliver video lectures, host virtual meetings (which includes virtual rooms), and launch polls to gather responses from participants.
Some of the tool’s applications are also able to deliver 4K UltraHD 3D video. But this may not be feasible as it requires you to have passive or active technology with 3D glasses.
If you have access to this kind of equipment, you can use TrueConf 3D to monitor complicated operations, collaborate with remote specialists, and provide 3D laparoscopes or other medical equipment.
TrueConf supports all popular operating systems, including iOS, macOS, Linux, Android, Windows, and WebRTC for browsers.
Although it’s hard to fault TrueConf’s solution, the lack of phone support is a certain negative. If someone doesn’t feel comfortable appearing on video and wants to talk to a human being over the phone, it might present a challenge for healthcare providers.
TrueConf is free for up to 12 speakers and participants. For larger facilities, upgrading to the premium version of TrueConf will increase the threshold to 36 speakers and 800 participants.
Teladoc is a “virtual medical practice,” with certified and licensed doctors available in everything from general medicine to mental health, dermatology, and more. Patients use the Teladoc mobile app to connect quickly with a medical professional, instead of waiting weeks for an appointment. They offer video, phone, and text chat between patients and doctors, 24/7/365.
Healthcare providers who are looking to bring Teladoc’s services to their patient network will be pleased to hear that Teladoc Health claims to have both the secure, scalable platform and human resources to continue to grow. There is also a real focus on customer experience, thanks to Teladoc’s analytics-driven patient engagement services.
Teladoc also currently welcomes individual “physicians with board certifications in internal medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, and family medicine who are committed to high-quality virtual care” to join their practice as contract employees. They’re fully insured, too, and every new hire must participate in Teladoc platform training before treating anyone virtually.
Unlike some of the other telehealth and video conferencing platforms we’ve mentioned here, Teladoc doesn’t list their pricing for providers and healthcare organizations. Your best bet is to contact Teladoc to find out more.
One thing that sets doxy.me apart: they are proudly app-free, delivering their services to both doctors and patients via internet browsers instead of requiring downloads. This ease of use might go a long way toward patient experience and satisfaction if a large portion of your clients are less familiar with smartphones and don’t want to jump through the whole “downloading apps” hoop.
Another cool feature for both patients and doctors: a virtual “waiting room,” where you can see who’s arrived for the next appointments, just like in a brick-and-mortar office. And with the Meeting History feature, you won’t have to keep track of each visit’s date, time, and length by hand, which makes billing a lot easier.
Like Teladoc, Doxy.me is specifically geared toward telemedicine and touts their platform’s security and compliance with global medical record privacy laws.
Doxy.me offers a good amount of its services free of charge, but if you want audio-only calls (or cloud phone service) and high-quality video, individuals pay $35/month, and clinics pay $50/month per user—plus a $300 setup fee to brand and customize your virtual storefront.
Use video conferencing to improve your patient outcomes
It can be stressful and challenging for patients when they need medical attention and they’re stuck waiting to see one.
With the help of video conferencing, you can expedite the care process—by a lot.
No matter where you or your patients are located, you can use your computer or smartphone to coordinate testing and educate patients about the next steps—all while having that important face-to-face interaction.
Of course, you’ll need to choose the right video conferencing software to make that happen. While all of the options above are designed to help improve patient outcomes, you should make sure that the software you choose fits your goals and the specific way your facility operates.
So, don’t just go with the software with the lowest price or the most features. Evaluate your needs and then choose a tool that helps you deliver an ideal patient experience that you’d be proud of.
Originally published Apr 21, 2020, updated Jan 15, 2021