The Telemedicine industry has witnessed a huge surge during the Coronavirus pandemic.
While there were a number of hospitals and healthcare practices that had started virtual consultations before the pandemic hit, the industry has witnessed a definitive shift since then.
With more practitioners reaping the benefits of increased flexibility, efficiency and cost savings that telemedicine offers, the transition to virtual healthcare is here to stay.
With CMS integrating changes that include telemedicine under medicare and streamline reimbursement of virtual services, things are looking bright for the future of telehealth.
If you are looking to start a telemedicine business but are confused about how to begin, what steps you need to take, what the legal and regulatory requirements are before beginning your journey are, this article will walk you through the basics and answer all queries you may have when you are about to embark on this journey.
Let’s get started.
Choose the type of telemedicine for your practice
The type of telemedicine service that you want to build for yourself depends on who your end-user is. Your platform can be aimed at providing communication between the providers and patients or it can be aimed at provider-to-provider communication.
It can either be a medium for real-time audio/video/text consultations or be used as a platform for transmitting data securely in the form of patient records or images.
When defining the telemedicine business model to follow, there isn’t a one size fits all approach. You have to choose what works for you tailored according to your needs.
Define who your offering is for, what market segment would benefit from it and what goals would it accomplish.
The following are examples of possible objectives that you can pursue.
1. Provider patient model
This is the digital shift of the quintessential care delivery model in which physicians leverage technology to hold virtual consultations with their patients.
You can choose to have this as an add on to your existing practice or go fully remote based on your objectives. The benefits of this model include increased flexibility, convenience and cost savings.
2. Accessible healthcare model
With the primary motive of making healthcare accessible to the patients, the accessible healthcare model is aimed at individuals living in remote locations and people suffering from comorbidities who can’t make it to the hospital easily.
Integration with remote patient monitoring technology can help physicians get real-time health status of their patients in order to facilitate data-driven decision making.
3. Specialized care model
This telemedicine model aims at providing specialized care through referrals or store and forward telemedicine.
The expertise of specialists can be availed on a real-time basis through provider-to-provider teleconsultations or through sharing of medical imaging or laboratory reports.
The model that you choose can be an amalgamation of any of these based on your requirements. While starting with a feature-packed telemedicine platform that fulfills all the above requirements may seem like a lucrative option, it might end up with you casting your net too wide.
With years of expertise in telemedicine app development, experts recommend taking an incremental approach when starting a telemedicine business.
Chalk out the must-have features that you need to begin with and add the good-to-have ones in further iterations.
Building incrementally helps you identify what’s working, what’s not working and empowers you to take timely corrective action.
Identify the technology tools required to set up telemedicine
Your telehealth implementation plan needs to outline the tech tools you would require to get started with telemedicine.
Asking the right set of questions to begin with will help you get your requirements right. Here are a few questions you should be asking in the planning stage.
- Is the platform going to be web-based or do you plan to have a mobile telemedicine app for virtual consultations?
- How will your telemedicine software integrate with other medical software that you might be currently using like EHRs, scheduling software, billing software etc.
- Where will the patient data be stored? Will you use local servers or will it be hosted in the cloud? (the latter is provides greater accessibility and security)
- If you are planning to integrate remote patient monitoring, what devices would you require and how will the data they collect integrate with your telemedicine software?
You need to make sure that your team as well as your patients have access to the right devices for telemedicine consultations to take place. This includes webcams, microphones, and robust network connectivity.
Learn about the legal requirements
State laws governing telemedicine vary a lot so it is important to read up on the legal requirements before getting started.
While most states are opening up to telemedicine and already have parity laws in place for telemedicine reimbursement, you need to be licensed in the particular state you are looking to offer telemedicine services in. Practicing across the state lines is possible if you hold multiple licenses.
State laws also vary when it comes to prescribing medications. Some states allow ePrescribing for established patients while others restrict virtual prescriptions completely.
Controlled substance prescriptions are also limited to specific diagnoses in certain states. The best way to find out about the state laws in regards to telemedicine is by reaching out to your state medical board.
When it comes to billing insurance, having a physical address is a must. Since the insurers list physicians according to their location, and zip code, an office address is a must have.
If you are planning to include telemedicine as an add-on to your existing practice, you can use your office address to bill insurance. However, if you plan on exclusively practicing telemedicine, you should look into renting a virtual office for your practice.
Lastly, don’t forget about the regulatory considerations when starting your telemedicine business. All medical software are subject to stringent security and regulatory requirements and Telemedicine software is no exception.
Your platform needs to be compliant with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) to ensure safety and security of patient health information collected and transmitted.
Choose a reliable partner to start your telemedicine business
Starting a telemedicine business is a learning curve and involves a huge financial commitment. Choosing the right technology can amplify the chances of its success.
Here are some of the things that you should look for when choosing your development partner.
- Understanding of UI/UX for an intuitive, easy to use interface for patients and providers.
- Experience in building secure, HIPAA compliant medical software
- Ability to integrate the telemedicine app with existing software and EHR
- Robust technical support
- Portfolio of success stories in telemedicine app development
With expertise in developing telemedicine software and having partnered with a range of clients- from individual practitioners to health-tech startups, we know what it takes to launch a successful telemedicine business. Have more questions? Get in touch with experts here.