When the coronavirus pandemic gripped the country, telemedicine transformed from a niche service to popular and even necessary practice. Practitioners quickly discovered the benefits to both their businesses and the patients they served. If you have not yet incorporated virtual visits into your medical model, one of the first things to explore is how to find the best telehealth payment, provider.
Main features and advantages of telemedicine
As the name implies, telemedicine involves providing medical or psychological services remotely. For decades, this has been accomplished by telephone. However, innovations in technology now allow for video interactions.
There are three types of telemedicine
- Interactive medicine. Physicians and patients communicate with each other through HIPAA-compliant audio and video software.
- Store-and-forward. This usually occurs when a primary care physician sees a patient in person, performs diagnostic tests, and then transmits the information electronically to a specialist in a different geographic area.
- Surveillance. This ongoing service allows the physician to monitor critical medical data, such as cardiac metrics or blood sugar, remotely using remote technology.
Providing virtual visits provides several advantages. Patients in isolated rural areas can get personalized medical care even if they are unable to travel to your office. You can follow up with patients to monitor progress and adjust a treatment plan without requiring them to take time off from work or child care, resulting in fewer absences and higher compliance. Finally, you can continue to provide vital advice and feedback even if health and safety concerns close your office or require patients to stay home.
What you need to know to start your telehealth practice
To the uninitiated, launching virtual visits may seem as simple as calling your patient from your office at an agreed-upon time. In reality, however, there are significant privacy and security issues that require you to take steps to safeguard your patient’s confidential health information. Just as you must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) in your office and correspondence, you must follow the same protocols with virtual visits.
Receiving patient payments over the phone can also pose difficulties. These so-called “card-not-present” transactions are subject to strict rules by credit card companies. In addition, you run the risk of making data entry errors that could affect the completion of the payment. That’s why one of your first priorities when starting the virtual visit component of your practice should be to find a telehealth payment provider, as well as a merchant account to securely hold your clients’ payments.
What to look for in a telemedicine merchant account
Now that remote healthcare is skyrocketing in popularity, it’s probably not surprising to learn that there is a lot of competition among the many companies offering payment platforms and merchant accounts. As is the case with any other contract or engagement related to your medical practice, it’s important to carefully review your options when it comes to selecting a merchant account and the vendor offering it. Keep the following factors in mind as you do so:
- Rates and fees. Compare several providers to find the most cost-effective option. Keep in mind, however, that the cheapest is not always the best. That’s why it’s imperative that your payment partner understands your unique requirements for meeting patient needs.
- Multiple payment options. When you give your patients multiple payment options, you’re more likely to get your funds quickly and smoothly. Choose a provider that allows you to accept credit and debit cards, as well as ACH (electronic check) payments.
- Offer recurring billing. This gives patients with substantial balances the ability to pay a set amount on a set schedule. The result is less stress for everyone involved and predictability of cash flow. and fewer past payments.
- Paperless billing. Another easy way to incentivize the transfer of funds is to send an invoice by e-mail. In this case, all the patient has to do is click on a secure link, provide their card information and send what they owe.
- Comprehensive reporting capabilities. Many providers give you an easy-to-use dashboard that gives you access to your patient and accounting information with just a few clicks.
- Mobile connectivity. Your telehealth payment provider can set you up with a mobile-compatible option that allows you to conduct virtual visits, communicate with patients, review billing details and converse electronically with clients and other providers from anywhere using your smartphone or laptop.
- Superior customer service. As you review your various telehealth provider options, make sure they make customer service a priority. It’s the vital link that keeps you connected to the patients who need you. If you experience problems or if your system fails completely, you should have 24/7 access to human experts who can provide immediate and effective assistance.
- Ease of use. A system with all the bells and whistles is useless if it is too complicated for you, your staff or your patients to navigate or operate. Before deciding on a merchant account and telehealth provider, make sure the platform suits your needs and is not overly complicated.
If you’re still in doubt about which option to choose, consider talking to colleagues who already offer virtual visits to find out what works for them and what doesn’t.
As a dedicated physician, you are committed to providing patients with the most effective care possible. As the owner of your practice, you must be equally attentive to establishing and maintaining a solid business foundation to support this care. Telehealth allows you to increase the scope of your patient interactions while giving you another source of funding. Once you choose the merchant account and telehealth payment provider that fits the needs of your patients and practice, you can begin to take advantage of the many benefits that virtual visits offer.