Doctor’s visits online? Having multiple carriers to choose from? Are we living in a futuristic time or what?! Like many of you out there, I’m new to the field of telemedicine. Not as a practitioner but as a Technical Support Agent.
I recently moved from the bustling, densely populated San Francisco Bay Area to a picturesque town in rural western Massachusetts. Adjusting to vast open landscapes and honking bands of geese in a town of 7,000 is radical. One of the realities living here is a shortage of skilled medical professionals. Looking for a new doctor has been a feat. Office after office I’ve called across neighboring towns are not accepting new clients. The best lead I’ve found is a health center with a waitlist of 100 people for a new doctor they hope to hire by the end of November. It made perfect sense to learn that telehealth sprouted from the need to serve people in remote areas, according to an interview with Dr. Joseph Kvedar by Lylah M. Alphonse, Managing Editor of Special Reports for U.S. News & World Report.
Using technology to build access and connections with people is so important to our time. Equally important is privacy. As we send information into cyberspace, we certainly want it kept securely and ethically. Patient privacy is of utmost concern in providing online healthcare. SecureVideo offers a person to person, HIPAA-compliant solution that helps people gain access to care that otherwise might not be available. We do not have the ability to record sessions, so information shared over SecureVideo.com stays private always.
As I’m reading up about telemental health, I see that the Google giants are also jumping into remote person-to-person videoconferencing solutions, called Helpouts. Their service hinges upon people helping people in real-time. They have different categories of Helpouts, including Health where some health providers are making themselves available. I thought it would be worthwhile to review how SecureVideo and Google Hangouts stack up for those of you looking into videoconferencing solutions for healthcare.
–Affordable. We do not take a fixed % of your session. There are three different plans ranging from $2-$4 per session. If you are new to videoconferencing, our free account offers you four sessions a month.
–True privacy. HIPAA-compliant one to one connection. We do not record your sessions.
–Sophisticated scheduler and appointment reminder system reduces no-shows.
–Branding. Use your own color schemes, logos, etc. All outgoing communication to clients will read from you instead of SecureVideo.com
–Business Associate Agreement (BAA). We can provide a written assurance to properly safeguard protected health information.
–Easy PayPal integration. Optional for Individual Plus and Enterprise customers. Allows your clients to pay for services directly through your session page.
–Take your existing business online. SecureVideo is a great solution for your established or budding practice.
–Easy! You can be up and running literally in minutes.
–Up to 20% per transaction. There is a lack of clarity around how they charge for a health Helpout, but as of Jan. 2014 there will be a fixed percentage charged per transaction.
-A public Google+ page is required to promote your business.
-A Google wallet account is required for set up.
–Screening. You must go through a third party screening process to verify your credentials.
-Helpouts offer BAA agreements. Originally, I had thought they didn’t. It’s a good thing, since they are required by the United States Department of Health and Human Services for HIPAA compliance. However, the world recently discovered that the NSA and the British equivalent, GCHQ hacked into Google’s overseas servers. Levi Sumagaysay, Editor of SiliconBeat, the San Jose Mercury News’ Tech Blog, wrote “there are more government requests for Google user data than ever, with the number doubling in the past three years.”
–100% money back guarantee for clients only when you allow Google to record your sessions for quality assurance. They seem to be waiving this for Health hangouts to meet HIPAA compliance.
–Your privacy is questionable. This the major sticking point. On October 30, 2013, The New York Times reported that the National Securtiy Agency tapped Google’s and Yahoo’s fiber-optic cables. The GCHQ has the “ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be shifted and analysed,” according to an article in June by the Guardian. Google has shown concern for this kind of spying and has been working on encryption since news of snooping leaked over the summer. It is clear however, that NSA and GCHQ have the capacity to intercept recordings of calls, emails, and other data- including videoconfrencing sessions.
Without a doubt, Google’s Helpouts page is impressive. There is a very cool video that reminded me how much I’ve always wanted to take guitar lessons. But when you cut through the color schemes, the cool video, and the big name: SecureVideo offers more for less. Less hassle. Less artificial constructions that keep you steps away from simple and direct one-to-one connections. Patients are waiting with real concerns. Don’t make them wait any longer than necessary. Meet them with more of you and a lot more privacy.