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Telemedicine Software Features to Consider: What Features Does Your Software Need?

As in other tech products, telemedicine software includes standard features as well as add-on options. For some providers, these extra features offer nothing but a way to waste money. For others, it would be useless to offer telehealth services without them.

When comparing software systems, look for the features that are critical to your practice. You also want an intuitive user interface and a reliable platform. Cost is important, but quality systems work when you need them to and promote optimum usage among staff and clinicians.

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Features that Help Build Trust

There are so many features to consider, but the following specifically help build trust between patient and provider.

  • Border-free video allows you to more accurately simulate a live interaction. The standard videoconferencing platform often includes a border, which serves to drive home the fact that you're speaking from a distance, mimicking the feeling of watching a movie or TV show. Removing that border helps build the patient's confidence in the provider as it feels more like talking to someone in person.
  • Low bandwidth and slow Internet connections plague healthcare facilities, presenting a real challenge when performing a live video conference, as these require a great deal of bandwidth. If your practice matches this description, look for telemedicine software designed to work well under less-than-optimum conditions, since poor video quality and slow, delayed connections may kill your telemedicine endeavors.
  • Multi-monitor setups are increasingly common and a huge productivity boon. However, when sharing your desktop with a patient, you want to be able to choose which monitor's screen to share to help protect confidentiality. Selective monitor sharing allows you to conduct your telemedicine consultation on one screen without compromising the privacy of what's on your other monitor.
  • Status settings typically include Away, Busy, Online or Available, and Invisible. An alternate status, Reachable, does not come standard on most systems, but is a valuable feature, as it tells the person attempting to reach you that you are able to accept a call.

Features that Specifically Benefit Your Practice

Certain features specifically support your practice (though patients also see some benefit). These include:

  • Automatically updated reimbursement rules employ advanced algorithms that are regularly updated by the vendor. This makes determining patient eligibility a breeze, even when regulations and payer policies change.
  • Contact list customization lets you sort your contacts however you need to, as well as create contact groups. Once you set up your groups, sending group messages or initiating a group video conference requires a single click.
  • Customizable screen layouts allow you to adjust screen space, move boxes around, and select video size. In addition, you can set it so that your desktop remains visible, while many also include picture-in-picture capabilities.
  • EHR integration offers significant timesavings, boosts efficiency, and lessens the risk of error. It also makes scheduling appointments and sharing patient information between platforms seamless.
  • Practice branding ensures that patients know who provides their care and helps you maintain brand consistency across platforms. Look for a system that allows you to display customized branding.
  • Provider scheduling keeps you and your staff in control of appointments, not the patient. If you prefer this arrangement, avoid systems that allow the patients to schedule appointments online.
  • Support for providers and patients offers in-application support for both your practice and the patients you serve. Many of the standard, lower cost systems offer providers limited support but nothing for patients.
  • System compatibility ensures the software integrates and interfaces with most other technologies out there, saving you from blowing resources on a system that only works with one vendor's products, forcing you to constantly buy new products from that vendor, whether they're the best option for your practice or not. For example, the ideal system allows you to make and receive calls using legacy devices rather than purchasing new hardware from the vendor.

Review Your Options Carefully

As features and options vary by vendor, these are only some of what you can expect to find when researching telemedicine software providers. Look closely at the feature and what it purports to do, and then talk to your expected users about which features they'd most like to see. You should also talk to other telemedicine providers about the features they can't imagine life without and which ones they never use. Finally, look at scalable systems, as these allow you to add or delete features as needed.

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