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8 ways to evaluate a telehealth vendor

Medical Economics JournalMay 2020 Edition
Volume 97
Issue 9

Even though practices want to start their telehealth program quickly, do not rush due diligence.

How to choose a telehealth vendor

Many physicians are now looking to hire a telehealth service company to expand access to care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even though practices want to start their telehealth program quickly, do not rush due diligence. To help physicians evaluate potential vendors, the American Medical Association (AMA) recently released Telehealth Implementation Playbook, a guide with key tips and updates on telemedicine expansion. In it, they include criteria that physicians should consider when selecting a vendor.

Basic business information

  • What’s the company’s organizational overview?

  • How long have they been around?

  • What’s their funding source? Are they financially stable?

  • Who are they affiliated with?

  • Do they have any notable customers?

Cost and prices

  • How will this company impact your program’s return on investment?

  • How much does the product cost?

  • What’s their business model?

  • What are details on reimbursement rates, risk sharing and more?

  • What’s the cost, process and timeline associated with integration and any product updates?

Is it a fit?

  • How well do they know you?

  • Do they have expertise in offering telehealth to your specialty?

  • Do they have knowledge of federal and private-payer requirements?

  • Do they know the laws and regulations in your state?

Technology needs

  • Does their tech match your needs?

  • Can they integrate with your information technology landscape, particularly your electronic health record (EHR) platform?

  • Can their system capture data important to both the care team and the patient?

  • What are their customization capabilities?

  • Can patients access their data?

Cybersecurity and privacy

  • Does the vendor have a secure system?

  • Do they comply with HIPAA rules?

  • Will they sign a business associate agreement with your practice?

  • What is their liability structure for managing security breaches?

  • Do they comply with local regulations, such as state medical board rules?

System usability

  • How well does their system work?

  • How easy is their system for clinicians and patients to use?

  • Does it provide engagement metrics?

  • How well does the dashboard and workflow systems work?

  • How easy is the billing system?

Vendor support services

  • How is their customer service?

  • How much initial training do they provide?

  • How much support do they provide beyond initial training? Patient education? Project management? Data analysis?

  • What is their technical support process like?

  • Do you have access to existing templates and procedure examples?

Clinical validation

  • Is their system credible clinically?

  • Do they have documentation that supports improving clinical outcomes?

  • Is there any published peer-reviewed research of their system?
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