Discover the world of self-service telehealth platforms in modern medicine, offering convenient and accessible healthcare options for patients. This guide explores the different types of platforms available, their features and benefits, and real-world examples. Learn how these cost-effective and efficient solutions can improve operations management for medical organizations while prioritizing patient care.
What is a self-service telehealth platform?
A self-service telehealth platform is a digital tool that enables patients to access healthcare professionals (and services) remotely through video, phone, messaging, or a mobile device. It allows patients to receive medical care from the comfort of their own homes, eliminating the need for in-person visits to a healthcare facility.
With such telehealth software, patients can schedule appointments, conduct virtual consultations with medical staff, and receive online prescriptions or recommendations for further treatment.
Self-service telehealth platforms can benefit patients who live in remote areas, have mobility issues, or have busy schedules that make it challenging to attend in-person visits. Additionally, they can help reduce healthcare costs and improve overall access to care.
Differences between telemedicine and telehealth services
In the past few years, we have witnessed the digital transformation of healthcare.
Recent data from Cross River Therapy reveals that virtual care has increased by 38 times since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth services are expected to experience substantial growth, with an estimated market value of $559.52 billion projected by early 2027.
The use of telemedicine and self-service healthcare platforms is on the rise, but it may sometimes be unclear what these terms mean. It is essential to understand the difference between telemedicine and telehealth.
Telemedicine refers to using technology to provide remote clinical services, such as virtual consultations between medical professionals and patients, remote monitoring of patients’ vital signs, or transmitting medical images or data for diagnostic purposes.
Telehealth is a broader term encompassing a more comprehensive range of digital health services beyond clinical care. It can include non-clinical services such as remote patient monitoring and patient education and administrative services like scheduling appointments or accessing medical records.
A typology of self-service telehealth platforms
We can distinguish several essential types of telehealth software providers depending on the service and the patient’s needs.
Self-service telehealth platform for healthcare providers
This is a tool for healthcare facilities to deliver remote patient care. It may include features such as virtual consultations, secure messaging, and remote monitoring of patient health data.
Examples: Amwell, Doctor On Demand.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
RPM telehealth services are designed to monitor patient health data remotely, often through wearable devices or other sensors. They may send automated alerts to medical professionals whenever a patient’s health data falls outside a specified range.
Examples: Philips Healthcare’s eCareCompanion, Medtronic’s CareLink.
Telehealth platforms for care coordination
The next group of telehealth services we would like to mention facilitates communication and coordination between healthcare providers, patients, and caregivers. Services provided may include features like secure messaging, shared patient records, and appointment scheduling.
Examples: CarePort, CipherHealth.
Telehealth platforms for wellness and preventive care
Good health and well-being may require patients to take action daily—from maintaining a proper diet to rest or physical exercise. Such platforms provide their clients with virtual fitness classes, nutrition coaching, or smoking cessation programs.
Examples: Livongo, Omada Health, Hims.
Another type of patient portal allows its users to access pharmacy services remotely. Telepharmacy platforms offer features such as virtual consultations with pharmacists, prescription refills, and medication delivery.
Mental wellness platforms
This is a solution that focuses on providing mental health services remotely. Patients may remotely participate in virtual therapy sessions and get support from online groups and mindfulness resources.
Examples: BetterHelp, Talkspace.
Self-service telehealth platforms: core functionalities
Whether a given functionality will delight the user largely depends on the UX of the website or app. Therefore, telehealth platforms must be designed with user-friendliness in mind, accommodating individuals of all levels of digital literacy. Such an approach entails creating a tool that is straightforward to navigate, intuitive, and accessible to everyone, including those with visual impairments. An efficient UX design can also help healthcare providers save time and reduce administrative burdens.
With the above in mind, let us go over the most important features of such software.
Overview of core functionalities
1. Virtual consultations
One of the critical features of a platform offering telehealth services is the ability to provide virtual consultations between patients and healthcare professionals. This should include live video calls or chats, allowing patients to receive medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment recommendations without visiting a doctor’s office.
2. Electronic health record (EHR) management
Many self-service telehealth platforms offer EHR management functionality, which allows patients to access and manage their data online (e.g., lab test results, medical scans, and other health-related information). Such functionality should include secure patient data storage and adherence to all relevant privacy and security regulations.
EU healthcare software must follow GDPR, while US telehealth platforms must comply with HIPAA. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protects patients’ health information by implementing security measures such as encryption, access controls, and audit trails.
3. Convenient appointment scheduling
Being able to conveniently and easily arrange appointments with a specialist is another critical feature of good software. Platform providers should allow patients to schedule appointments online, with customizable email and text notifications and reminders. In addition to automated appointment scheduling, real-time availability updates and options for rescheduling or canceling appointments are worth including.
4. Prescription management and e-prescription module
Along with patient self-scheduling, another critical functionality is a prescription management module that enables users to request prescription refills online or receive e-prescriptions from their doctors. It is a simple way to streamline the prescription management process and reduce the need for patients to visit a pharmacy in person. A professional platform should allow patients to request and receive e-prescriptions from their healthcare providers and have medications delivered directly to their homes.
5. Remote monitoring
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is a healthcare technology that allows medical professionals to keep track of their patients’ health conditions even when they are not in a hospital or clinic. This is done by collecting and transmitting real-time data on patients’ vital signs, symptoms, and other health-related information using wearable devices and sensors.
6. Video visits and secure messaging
Video visits and secure messaging are standard features of telehealth platforms. Video visits allow patients to make virtual appointments with healthcare providers using video conferencing technology. At the same time, secure messaging enables patients to communicate with their providers through a secure text-based platform for medical advice, prescription refills, and other healthcare services.
7. Multiplatform usage
User-friendly platforms are accessible to all patient groups. They allow patients to access healthcare services remotely regardless of their device. Some prefer web access, while others use Android or iOS devices. The user experience and robust mobile app functionality should be consistent across all platforms.
Overview of additional functionalities
1. Improved accessibility for visually impaired and senior users
Some additional features may include features that improve accessibility for visually impaired and elderly users, such as speech recognition or speech synthesis. This can help ensure that all patients, regardless of physical abilities, can access healthcare services remotely.
2. AI-based triage system
How can you ensure patients receive the appropriate level of care based on their needs? Some services may use AI-based triage systems to match patients with healthcare providers based on factors such as language, triage questionnaires, or redirecting to emergency calls if necessary.
3. Verification of healthcare insurance
Telehealth software may include functionality to verify healthcare insurance, which can help patients determine whether their insurance plan covers a specific healthcare provider.
4. Integration with the payment system
Allowing patients to pay for healthcare services online can help streamline the payment process and reduce the need for patients to visit a doctor’s office to make payments in person.
5. Patient opinions on the quality of healthcare
The possibility to rate the quality of care they receive from individual healthcare providers can help patients make informed decisions about which providers (and specialists) to choose for their healthcare needs.
6. Integration with medical devices
One of the most significant benefits of telehealth software is the opportunity to remotely monitor patients’ health and diagnose medical conditions more accurately. Platform integrations with medical devices such as digital stethoscopes, otoscopes, pulse oximeters, blood pressure monitors, glucometers, insulin pumps, and medical camera images and videos can help make an accurate diagnosis.
7. Knowledge center for patients and their caregivers
There is always a need for more health education. Telehealth platforms can include a knowledge center with resources such as tips, tricks, and guidance on what to do in certain situations. It may help patients and their caregivers feel more informed and empowered when managing their health.
Real-life use cases of self-service telehealth platforms
Before we conclude, we would like to present examples of various telehealth services already available to customers. You might be a heavy user of one or know a similar online solution that addresses health-related needs.
Remote physical exams with TytoCare
TytoCare is a New York-based healthcare platform to conduct on-demand medical exams. It empowers patients to receive medical examinations whenever they need them. The platform’s AI technology is instrumental in triaging patients—the patient provides their symptoms, and the AI recommends the ideal remote physical exams to perform. This way, the actual doctor can access all the necessary data for a proper diagnosis and treatment prescription.
The solution allows for quick assistance to patients without the need to make an appointment with a specialist and travel to the facility. It also offers integration with medical devices such as digital stethoscopes and otoscopes.
24/7 access to medical practitioners with Teladoc
Teladoc is a globally renowned telehealth and telemedicine platform. It is a comprehensive tool (from general medical help to wellness care and mental health practice) for connecting patients with specialists via video or phone calls.
It provides patients with 24/7 access to healthcare services, enabling them to receive medical advice and treatment from the comfort of their own homes at any time.
The advantage of this platform is that, in emergencies, it does not require patients to make an appointment with a doctor for a specific visit. They need only describe their symptoms in the chat, and the system will immediately connect them with an available specialist.
Managing medical data in MyChart
One more healthcare app available on the market that we want to mention is MyChart. The software allows patients to manage their medical information and communicate with their healthcare providers.
Patients can view medical records, schedule appointments, request prescription refills, and use “eCheck-in” to check in for appointments and complete forms in advance. MyChart also provides educational resources to help patients understand their health conditions and treatment options, improving their overall engagement in their healthcare.
This American app is widely used by healthcare organizations such as the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic.
Self-service telehealth platforms have emerged as a dominant force in the healthcare industry, offering patients a convenient and easily accessible solution for remote medical care. These innovative software solutions boast superior user experience and unmatched security, featuring virtual consultations, EHR management, online scheduling, and secure messaging.
In addition to improving patient satisfaction, telehealth platforms significantly benefit healthcare organizations by streamlining practice management operations and providing cost-effective solutions that drive efficiency and profitability.
Overall, self-service telehealth platforms represent a significant opportunity for businesses operating in the healthcare industry. By embracing these technologies, organizations can differentiate themselves from competitors, enhance patient outcomes, and drive sustainable growth and profitability in a rapidly evolving market.
And the best part? This is just the beginning! As such software continues to evolve, affordable medical care will become accessible to more people worldwide, creating a paradigm shift in how healthcare is delivered and accessed.