Weighing your telehealth platform options and not sure where to start? Or maybe you’re contract is coming up and you’re looking for a better alternative to your current telehealth platform. In this article, we’ll be covering two popular telehealth options: Zoom for healthcare and VSee telehealth. What are the pros and cons of Zoom versus VSee?
Zoom – Great For Video Conference. But Great for Telehealth?
Zoom is a beautiful video conference platform but it’s not optimized for doing telehealth. As we’ve discussed in other articles, Zoom has done an amazing job capturing the video conference market because of its dedication to high quality cloud-based (i.e. no infrastructure) video conferencing. It has blown the competition–like Vidyo, Cisco/Tandberg, WebEx and Skype for Business–out of the water. We love Zoom for group video meetings, conference calls, and webinars, which is what it was designed for. Indeed, VSee CEO Milton Chen regards Zoom CEO Eric Yuan very highly and has spoken with him on occasion for advice.
What’s Missing From Zoom for Healthcare
As much as we approve of Zoom for video conference, we know through years of experience in telehealth and telemedicine that video conference alone isn’t enough for making telehealth work. Video is only one tiny piece of a complicated work process. As much as we like Zoom, it simply isn’t set up to quickly triage a private telehealth visit the way it’s set up to run a meeting or training.
Video Is Not Enough To Make Telehealth Work
To make telehealth work, you need a way to triage visits, and a way for your entire care team to coordinate and manage a patient. Sometimes you also need to monitor the patient’s vitals. the some of the systems you’ll want include
- pre-visit triage, scheduling, and registration steps that happen before the video visit,
- lobby or waiting room concept with patient queue
- Audio and video connection
- post-visit billing and follow-up that happens after the video visit, and
- medical device or health tracker integrations that are needed during or outside of the visit.
The catch is that clinical workflows all look a little different depending on your specialty or worksite. This leaves you with the following options for doing telehealth:
- piecemeal the different tools you need for each workflow step (where Zoom would be only one of the many tools needed) and hope you don’t need to do too many workarounds,
- build and design your own complete telehealth platform (very resource and time intensive), or
- find a platform that’s designed to match your clinical workflow (like VSee).
Real Zoom Telehealth Users Share Their Problems
So you have a better idea of what I mean, let me give you some real life examples of the time-wasting workarounds that Zoom healthcare users have shared with us.
Losing 5 to 10 minutes each time you see a patient online
One psychiatric & behavioral health practice complained that it takes them three extra steps to do an on-demand visit using Zoom, regularly losing them 5 to 10 minutes per patient! Their patients often forget to go to the Zoom meeting room in advance. This means the practice has to
1) contact the patient to go to the meeting room,
2) re-generate and send them the Zoom meeting link via email, which takes a few minutes to receive,
3) then troubleshoot via phone or re-send the link again because the patient can’t find the email.
What attracted them to VSee was our walk-in waiting room with a static link. They did not have to generate a new meeting link for each visit in order to have a secure call with a patient. They could simply embed the link on their website and direct patients to their website instead.
Integrating Zoom into your EMR – An Epic fail?
UCSF is another example. As EPIC users, they had Zoom integrated into their EPIC system to make it easier to offer telemedicine across their departments and to reduce workflow friction. But as we mentioned earlier, video is just one small piece of a telemedicine visit. And workflows are specific to each specialty and department. Trying to make one-size telemedicine solution fit across all your practices and departments is bound to get poor results for most if not all.
One UCSF urologist complained, “One issue we’ve been having to workaround is communication with patients before the video appointment (getting them the right link and making sure the provider has it) and having multiple back to back patients (keep on waiting room in the same conference call or jump between multiple rooms).”
Why Arrowhead Regional Chose VSee over Zoom
Chief Medical Information officer and practicing pediatrician of Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) Reza Sadeghian, MD, MBA explains similar workflow problems they had with Zoom before switching to VSee:
“We tried Zoom prior to going to VSee and it was very cumbersome because it’s like you’re scheduling a meeting, but VSee is like on the fly. You just send patients a text message and the session is there.”
Similar to the psychiatric group above ARMC was having to take extra time to manually schedule a Zoom meeting and to generate a unique link for each patient meeting.
ARMC was also having trouble figuring out how to use Zoom to allow their medical assistants (MAs) prep and pass patients to the physicians. In addition, Zoom limited their ability to schedule overlapping or simultaneous meetings with the same room account.
VSee’s shared waiting room, lets an unlimited number of patients enter a single waiting room at the same time. It lets multiple clinicians access the same shared patient queue, and it lets them start a video call with any of those same patients whenever they are ready.
VSee’s infrastructure also makes it possible for MAs or other staff to seamlessly prep and pass patients to a physician; and for physicians to pass patients back to the MA.
Dr. Sadeghian gives an example of the problem VSee solved for them, “If I’m giving an account to my surgery clinic and my MA is covering general surgery, neurology, ENT, and ophthalmology at the same time. Those doctors can see their different patients at the same time.”
In the end he emphasizes, “We chose VSee because it really fit our clinical practice.”
Cool Things You Can Do With VSee Telehealth Platform
A telehealth-specific platform like VSee, on the other hand, makes it simple to virtualize your front-end and back-end workflows so your staff can stay efficient and do telehealth like they do in-person clinical visits. It makes it possible to truly leverage the power of going digital.
It’s not only VSee’s “waiting room + patient queue” concept versus Zoom’s “locked door meeting room” concept that makes this possible. VSee provides out-of-the-box functionality to simplify managing all your providers across multiple departments and sub-specialties. It also supports innovative telehealth services such as at-home lab testing, employee telehealth kiosks, and home delivery prescriptions for a more patient-centered experience. With VSee, you can:
- monitor patients from multiple waiting rooms in a single queue
- use Uber-style dispatching to load-balance and distribute patients from the same patient queue to a pool of providers
- match patients to providers by state, specialty, symptoms or other criteria
- perform front desk management and patient coordination online such as the ability put patients “on hold”, to perform virtual “rooming” and passing patients from an MA to the physician and back to the MA
VSee also offers a bunch of other functionalities to make it easy to do telehealth
- letting patients self-schedule their own visits or choose to walk-in
- built-in patient intake and telemedicine consent forms
- online credit card payments
- integrating digital peripherals (otoscope, EKG…), fitness trackers, AI symptom checkers, etc. for plug-and-play medical exams
- remote patient monitoring dashboard for chronic care management
Zoom for Healthcare Pricing vs. VSee
Zoom for healthcare is $200 per month per user. Don’t confuse this with Zoom’s free and education pricing subscriptions. Zoom’s free and education plans do not include a Business Associate Agreement (BAA), which you need for healthcare regulations compliance, i.e. HIPAA.
HIPAA regulations require you to sign a BAA with any of your vendors that touch protected health data. These vendors could include law services, document shredding services, online note-taking software and of course, your video conference or telehealth platform. It simply ensures that your vendors are legally responsible for any data leaks or violations. It’s not a bad idea to have this either way, considering they are handling private voice and video communications between your providers and patients.
If $200 per month is too expensive for you Zoom is known to give pricing discounts on occasion if you have a large number of providers. You might also want to check out other telehealth platforms.
VSee offers a combination of tiered, per user and usage-based pricing. This allows us to meet our clients’ business needs from solo providers to SMBs to large enterprises. Our tiered pricing model offers:
- Free Plan for solo providers that need only the most basic features including a waiting room and unlimited 1-1 video calls.
- Basic Plan ($49/month) for solos that need premium features such as scheduling, credit card payment and family/guest invites.
- Enterprise Plan for solo to enterprise users that need special features, customizations, and support for more complex workflows. Pricing depends on the features needed, such as white-label, ePrescribe, and having multiple providers share a single walk-in waiting room. It also depends whether professional design and engineering services are needed.