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    How to select the right telemedicine vendor

    When patients contacted her via social media Tisha Rowe, MD, MBA, used to respond to them. But when the Houston, Texas-based primary care physician found that the messages kept coming, she knew something had to change. “A lot of people would reach out to me and say, “Can you answer this question?’” she says. “I thought, ‘Wait a minute. I’m working, and I’m not getting paid for it.”This article appears in the 4/10/18 issue of Medical Economics.

    In 2014, no one was really discussing telemedicine, she says. So she looked into implementing it not just for her own patients, but for others. Today, Rowe is the founder and CEO of RoweDocs, an online network of 75 physicians who offer telemedicine visits to their current patients.

    But even with Rowe’s business background, finding the right vendor wasn’t easy. Vendors would make promises they ultimately couldn’t deliver on.

    The first company had problems in following HIPAA. The second couldn’t bill an insurance company, or verify a patient’s insurance coverage. The third said it was a telemedicine company, but only offered chat communications without video conferencing, Rowe says.

    As Rowe’s experience indicates, finding the right telemedicine vendor can be a challenge. As more practices consider offering telemedicine, both the big picture and the small details matter. Taking a thoughtful approach can help physicians determine which vendor will provide the best fit for  their practices and their patients. 

    Next: Ask the right questions

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