Building telehealth apps is the next big thing in healthcare software development. According to Grand View Research, the global telemedicine market is valued at $83.5 billion. The experts predict the need to expand at a staggering compound annual growth rate of 24% between 2023 and 2030. In such a case, it is reasonable for companies to either build a telehealth solution from scratch or choose among the available HIPAA-compliant video conferencing telemedicine apps.
Yet, in both cases, the solution must be HIPAA-compliant. Otherwise, using telehealth software systems will be a massive financial burden. Keeping that in mind, let’s find out more about the role of HIPAA compliance in telemedicine app development. In addition, it is crucial to understand why HIPAA is vital for video conferencing in general. Finally, look at the top 10 HIPAA-compliant video conferencing telehealth apps and the ready-to-go solutions to choose from.
What is HIPAA Telehealth Video Conferencing?
With telehealth, it is crucial to understand that this is a massive market (see Fig. 1).
At this point, the market’s growth is accompanied by increased data being transferred and used. Video conferencing means the information is transmitted via video, audio, and text. Moreover, when video conferencing is coupled with healthcare, you get telemedicine. These apps work with the mediums mentioned above, a significant difference being that they use patient data and protected health information (PHI). Safeguarding such sensitive data is the top priority in telemedicine app development. It is the moment when HIPAA comes into play.
Regarding HIPAA-compliant video conferencing, the app you use has all the safeguards, encryption, and security measures offering bank-grade protection for patient data. Thus, a telehealth app must adhere to both Privacy Rule and Security Rule to make it happen. At this point, there are clear instructions on protecting patient data when sharing it through telemedicine apps.
In a nutshell, HIPAA created national rules and standards protecting patient medical records by:
- offering patients a greater degree of control over their health data
- setting clear boundaries of how the health data can and cannot be used
- establishing protective and security measures that healthcare providers are obliged to follow
- holding those breaching the data protection standards responsible and accountable
HIPAA standards within the telemedicine market apply to every party working with sensitive data. Respectively, healthcare providers are presented as Covered Entities, meaning they are responsible for adhering to HIPAA rules when sharing patient data. Individuals or organizations receiving health information from Covered Entities are called Business Associates. As a result, HIPAA standards are primarily applied to these two categories of handling patient data in one form or another.
Why is HIPAA Important for Telemedicine Mobile Apps?
Following HIPAA rules is a must for companies designing, building, and using telehealth apps. There is no short answer. But looking deeper into the phenomenon, it is crucial to understand three key aspects.
First, HIPAA regulations apply to Covered Entities and Business Associates of all sizes, from small practices with only one healthcare professional to multinational insurance companies looking to innovate. All of them take care of these correlated aspects:
- Confidentiality. Ensures all created, transmitted, and received PHIs are confidential.
- Protection. Entails protecting PHIs against internal and external threats.
- Compliance. Ensures every person handling PHIs understands and follows HIPAA regulations.
- Prevention. Prevents any authorized access to PHIs.
- Integrity. Entails all PHIs to be intact.
- Availability. Ensures all PHIs are available to the respective parties handling them.
Second, telemedicine HIPAA compliance brings distinct benefits to patients. In short, before HIPAA was enforced, healthcare providers were not legally obliged to protect patient health data. It means if any breach occurred, nobody was liable. That created the situation when companies handling health information needed to present protection and security measures to safeguard PHIs. When HIPAA arrived, patients received a viable means for their health data to be protected, a primary benefit of HIPAA within healthcare data strategy.
Third, HIPAA is beneficial for healthcare organizations. Along with the arrival of tools like AI and RPA, telemedicine is the next big thing considered. Essentially, the new set of regulations reformed how healthcare providers handle PHIs. In most cases, HIPAA improved the way administrative tasks are handled. Yet, the critical benefit of HIPAA-compliant telehealth apps and healthcare organizations stems from the average cost of data breaches (see Fig. 2).
The Cost of Healthcare Data Breaches
In most cases, a data breach costs an average of $4.24 million per incident. In addition, the healthcare industry experiences the costliest data breaches, with an average financial loss due to the incident reaching about $9.42 million per incident. At this point, implementing HIPAA regulations within telehealth mobile apps is a great way to protect yourself from costs associated with data breaches and HIPAA noncompliance.
With all the given benefits HIPAA offers, it is apparent the regulations redefined the healthcare industry and made PHIs as protected as ever before. Data protection measures presented by the regulations allowed the healthcare industry to adopt digitization at a more excellent pace. All in all, the benefits mentioned above made it possible for telehealth software systems to emerge.
Top 10 HIPAA-Compliant Video Conferencing Apps
There are dozens of telehealth apps to choose from. However, not all offer the best quality services for reasonable prices. So, further is a list of top telehealth video conferencing apps available. Each has a well-established reputation, comes with different telemedicine integrations, and is a frontrunner in the given market. Here are the candidates to consider:
- Zoom for Healthcare
- RingCentral for Healthcare
- GoTo Meeting for Healthcare
- Pexip Health
Zoom for Healthcare
Zoom for Healthcare is one of the leaders among all existing telehealth apps. While the central Zoom platform is not HIPAA-compliant, the company ensured that the tool’s iteration for Healthcare follows all the rules and regulations mentioned above. Also, as cloud-based software working with cloud data management, Zoom for Healthcare follows HIPAA and PIPEDA regulations, which makes it double-proofed against internal and external breaches.
Regarding the uniqueness of Zoom for Healthcare, it is crucial to indicate the platform’s ability to integrate with various medical devices. For instance, this telehealth app can be linked with exam cameras, digital stethoscopes, and electronic health records (EHR). In addition, the tool allows more than two users to join the session. Therefore, it makes an excellent deal for conducting group telemedicine appointments.
As to some additional features, Zoom for Healthcare comes with the following:
- Patient waiting room
- High-Definition video and audio
- In-app file sharing
- Chat messenger
- Recording transcripts
- AES 256-encryption
Overall, Zoom for Healthcare is an excellent HIPAA-compliant telehealth software systems solution applicable for both small practices and massive insurance companies. To tap into the tool, you must choose between two pricing packages. Zoom One Pro option starts at $149.90 for up to 100 participants, and Zoom One Business starts at $199.90 for up to 300 participants.
RingCentral for Healthcare
RingCentral for Healthcare is a well-known HIPAA-compliant telehealth software system. The platform gained prominence due to its quality as well as charity. Specifically, during the COVID-19 outbreak, the company offered healthcare providers free access to its features to help battle the pandemic. The tool is fully HIPAA-compliant and HITRUST CSF certified. Also, this app comes with end-to-end encryption and offers the best data protection measures.
One of the unique aspects of RingCentral for Healthcare is that it integrates various well-known CRMs, unified communication services, and messenger instruments. Besides, healthcare providers can share their screens with other users during telehealth sessions. Finally, the tool is excellent for medical professionals who prefer annotation. The telehealth app comes with file annotation software allowing users to make virtual notes and update patient charts.
What is more, here are some additional features RingCentral for Healthcare offers:
- Team calendar
- Task management feature
- Compliance exports
- Round-the-clock customer support
As a result, RingCentral for Healthcare is among the telehealth mobile apps ensuring HIPAA compliance through end-to-end encryption, Business Associate Agreement (BAA), and HITRUST CSF certification. You can get access to the app’s features via four pricing plans. There is an Essentials package starting at $19.99 per user/month, a Standard package starting at $27.99 per user/month, a Premium package starting at $34.99 per user/month, and an Ultimate package starting at $49.99 per user/month.
GoTo Meeting for Healthcare
GoTo Meeting for Healthcare is a viable telemedicine HIPAA compliance option many enterprises prefer. The platform achieved safe, secure, and HIPAA-compliant video conferencing through BAA, AES 256-bit encryption, and additional protective measures like one-time passwords, meeting locks, and disabled recordings. GoTo Meeting for Healthcare also has a BSI C5 certification, further supporting the platform’s care for patient health information.
This telehealth app is known for its integrations. As a user, you can integrate various calendar plugins like Outlook, Calendly, and Curve Dental to make appointment booking easy and seamless. Besides, in terms of communication, GoTo integrates with MS Team, Slack, and Hipchat. Finally, for a reasonable price, users can use the following features:
- In-app file sharing
- Screen sharing
- Chat messaging
- Meeting locks
- Meetings with no time limit
- High-definition audio and video streaming
All these features come in three pricing packages. With GoTo for Healthcare, telehealth video conferencing is available within Professional and Business plans, costing $12 per month and $16 per month, respectively. There is also an Enterprise plan. Yet, the price within the package is structured according to the client’s needs, which means it differs from user to user.
VSee is among the notable Zoom for Healthcare alternatives. Like other candidates, this telehealth app ensures PHI protection and HIPAA compliance through BAA and protective measures like two-factor authentication and AES 256-bit encryption.
While choices like Zoom, RingCentral, and GoTo have both video conferencing for healthcare and other industries, VSee is a true telehealth solution with all its products dedicated to healthcare. There is VSee Clinic, VSee Messenger, VSee APIs, VSee Remote Patient Monitoring, VSee Telemedicine Kits, and VSee Telehealth Staffing. All these tools put VSee on the map among leading telemedicine apps.
When it comes to factors making VSee unique, there are several aspects to mention. First, the platform allows healthcare providers to conduct telehealth appointments and monitor patient wellness goals. This telehealth app integrates Fitbit, wireless scales, blood pressure monitors and other IoT devices allowing a healthcare provider to create and update wellness charts and share them with other users. Besides, VSee is a unique telemedicine platform because it provides walk-in appointments. While in the virtual waiting room, patients can watch educational materials and access 24/7 live chat support.
In terms of some additional features VSee offers, there are the following to consider:
- Virtual intake forms
- Electronic prescriptions
- Live notetaking
- Screen sharing
- Self-scheduling for patients
- Post-visit surveys
- VSee compatible medical equipment
Finally, the most exciting part is that VSee has a great Free Forever package giving a user unlimited one-on-one calls. Yet, if you want to get some additional features, you should choose between the Basic package starting at $49 per month and a customizable Enterprise plan.
doxy.me is a telehealth app with something to offer patients, providers, and clinics. Starting with the patients, the platform is known to be simple and convenient. Besides, as a user, you do not need to download software and can use the browser to access the instrument. Regarding the security of PHIs, doxy.me adheres to HIPAA, PIPEDA, and GDPR.
For providers, the tool offers features like patient view, clinician dashboard, and clinician view. Finally, when working with clinics and organizations, doxy.me is a powerful telemedicine solution offering custom branding, analytics, and transfer patient aspects.
doxy.me is a mobile-friendly telehealth app on iOS and Android devices. Along with mobile-friendliness, the app comes with such features:
- Unlimited sessions
- Unlimited length of sessions
- Personalized rooms
- Chat messenger
- Session history
- Browser notifications
- Breach insurance
Besides the features above, doxy.me adopts AES-256 encryption. However, the platform’s protective measures are backed by Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 management infrastructure. At some point, doxy.me was coined as one of the most affordable telemedicine apps. It comes in Free, Professional, Clinic, and Enterprise pricing options. The Professional package starts at $35 per month, while the Clinic option starts at $50 per month.
SimplePractice Telehealth is a desktop and mobile video conferencing telehealth software offering specific services for patients and healthcare providers while complying with stringent HIPAA regulations. The unique aspect of SimplePractice is the tool offering insurance processing. At this point, the instrument is ideal for medical practitioners emphasizing providing care to patients with physical and mental conditions.
What is exciting about SimplePractice, is that the telehealth app is mobile-friendly, which means users can fill in patient intake documents on any given device. The tool also includes an in-app secure messaging aspect. Both before and after appointments, patients can share some sensitive data securely. In addition, SimplePractice entails these features:
- One-click video calling
- Screen sharing
- Customized note-taking templates
- Website booking
- Personal calendar
- Autopay billing
In such a context, to tap into what SimplePractice has to offer, you need to choose between several pricing options. Along with a 30-day free trial, the telehealth app is available through Starter, Essential, and Plus packages. The pricing is $29 per month, $69 per month, and $99 per month, respectively.
Thera-LINK is a telehealth app designed to help mental health professionals. Similar to doxy.me, this tool is browser-based. It offers practice management features with data automation options – automated reminders and online payment options.
Besides, the instrument entails a particular Directory aspect, allowing users to find the needed practice through the online database search. In most cases, Thera-LINK is coined as a perfect match for healthcare professionals seeking telemedicine apps they can use for group counseling, support groups, and family therapy.
When delivering the services, Thera-LINK offers the following features:
- In-app chat messenger
- Screen sharing
- Mute and unmute options
- File sharing
- BAA agreement
- AES-256 encryption
At this point, Thera-LINK provides all the essential features you might need with a telehealth app. Regarding HIPAA compliance, along with the BAA agreement and AES-256 encryption, the platform adopted HTTPS and Strict Transport Security (HSTS) protection measures. While Thera-LINK offers a three-day free trial, you need to choose from three pricing plans to get more of its premium features. There is a Basic plan starting at $30 per month, Plus plan to start at $45 per month, and an Ultimate plan starting at $65 per month.
While Thera-LINK and doxy.me are browser-based telehealth apps, Medici is a mobile-only telemedicine tool. In a nutshell, the instrument offers high-quality care services through secure video and texting channels. Besides, Medici is easily integrated into EHR, which helps healthcare professionals avoid steep learning curves when providing treatments and diagnosis.
Regarding HIPAA compliance, one of the unique aspects of this telehealth software system is that it is SOC 2 compliant as well. Not many telemedicine apps comply with this standard. Medici has distinct privacy controls, security measures, and encryption to protect PHIs and all related medical data. Finally, in terms of features coming with the tool, these are the ones to consider:
- Secure text messaging
- High-definition video
- EHR integration
- Chat translation
- Revenue dashboards
- Multi-patient workflow management systems
- Clinical workflow management
If you want to get your hands on some of the unique features above, you use the Free option. However, if you want to have them all, you need to choose between the Treat plan, starting at $25 per month or Grow plan with customized pricing.
Pexip Health is a video platform powering telehealth. This telemedicine app links patients and healthcare providers through distinct virtual care solutions. In a nutshell, Pexip Health provides three distinct aspects – Pexip Build, Connected Spaces, and Secure Connections.
Starting Pexip Build allows users to customize a telehealth video platform with distinct branding and workflows to get a great user experience. In turn, Connected Spaces are there to make virtual appointments and patient-provider links easier. This aspect helps integrate Pexip Health with Cisco and Poly and works with Big Data. Finally, Secure Communications ensures this telehealth app is confidential and has all the protections against security breaches.
When it comes to distinct features, Pexip Health entails the following:
- Epic EHR
- Integrations with Microsoft Team, Skype, and Google Meet
- Video chat via different devices
- Third-party plugins
- Software downloads
- SOC 2 and FIPS 140-2 compliance
- Deployment with Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and AWS
Pexip Health provides a free trial. However, to access the entire functionality package, you must pay a starting price of $39 per month. While Pexip Health is considered a lightweight option among telemedicine apps, it still offers all you might need to provide top-notch virtual care.
eVisit is a virtual and hybrid care delivery telehealth software that works for individual healthcare providers and hospitals. The platform’s fundamental goal is three-folded:
- It calls on providers to boost the patient experience.
- It offers an expansion of one’s market share.
- The instrument is there to increase revenue.
eVisit is proven to be accessible and easy to use. There is an indication that 46% of healthcare executives lose patients due to a lack of easy access to care. Also, the creators behind eVisit provide more than 150 points of configuration and promise up to 5.8x return on investment.
Pondering upon HIPAA compliance, along with standard measures telehealth apps employ, eVisit went a bit further. The company created a so-called eVault and has an internal team of experts on HIPAA regulations, ensuring the platform follows stringent privacy, security, and confidentiality measures. Finally, professionals at eVisit even published several guides on HIPAA compliance.
eVisit offers a Free plan and Standard, Advanced, and Premium packages. Each one is priced at $25 per month, $37 per month, and $50 per month. So even though eVisit is the last on the list, it still needs to be more critical. You get one of the most protected telehealth apps for a reasonable price.
Choosing the Best Telemedicine Mobile App
After we have covered the main ground, it is time to discuss some additional aspects. More specifically, even between the top 10 telehealth apps above, you need to know which one to choose. Here are seven key questions to ask when choosing the best telemedicine app:
- Is the tool applicable to your particular medical field?
- Is the tool meeting the needs of your patients and employees?
- Do your competitors use this same tool?
- Is this tool secure?
- Are the tool and the company behind it signed BAA?
- Can the tool be easily integrated into your existing system?
- Does the tool come with an excellent quality-to-price ratio?
Asking these questions brings you closer to the telehealth app, meeting all your needs. The points above need to be covered to ensure the telemedicine solution picks services in the best interests of your patients and your organization.
Telehealth Apps HIPAA Compliance Checklist
After having your eye on a particular product, it is necessary to come through the HIPAA compliance checklist. Even if the company behind a telehealth software system indicates the solution is HIPAA compliant, you still need to double-check that. At this point, the checklist includes the following elements.
In general terms, the method involved analyzing all the potential threats to health data storage, security, privacy, and confidentiality. It entails looking at how the data is stored, maintained, and transmitted. Besides, there are different infrastructure vulnerabilities to consider. Finally, each good telehealth platform has a document serving as a PHI response plan. That makes the risk analysis stage crucial for double-checking the security of telemedicine apps. If you are unsure whether you conduct a risk analysis correctly, you should use the help of professionals.
After conducting a risk analysis, it is time for risk elimination. In telehealth apps, entire teams should be dedicated to getting rid of all the potential risks to patient data security, privacy, and confidentiality. When dealing with the risks, follow the minimum requirements for PHI usage.
Finally, it is time for risk management practice. That entails dealing with potential risks in advance. The practice often comes with adding SSL certificates and custom-designed referral programs. Check whether your chosen telehealth app has those. Moreover, the most protected tools deal with risks before they even appear. In such a case, the best telemedicine apps employ these steps:
- Vulnerability scans
- Penetration testing
- Network event monitoring
- Audit trails
- Login tracking
- Automated event analysis
- Compliance reporting
With risk analysis, risk elimination, and risk management, it is possible to determine whether the telehealth app you have chosen has the promised top-grade protection and HIPAA compliance.
How to Add HIPAA-Compliant Telehealth Video Conferencing App to Your System
Finally, when you have everything intact, which means you have the tool you need and know that it has the protection it advertises, it is crucial to know how to add the telehealth app to your existing system. In such a case, a rule of thumb dictates that the best telemedicine solutions come with scalability.
To add a HIPAA-compliant video conferencing app, you need to take care of the following:
- Backend technology and cloud computing. You need access to appropriate data storage options like Google Cloud Platform or AWS.
- Encryption. You need to have an infrastructure capable of handling AES-256, FIPS 140-2, and HTTP/TLS standards.
- WebRTC. Finally, a telemedicine app development solution can only work with a WebRTC.
To handle the best telehealth app, it is vital to consider the aspects above in advance. More than simply choosing the solution is required. You should know how it maintains HIPAA compliance and whether the system you use can keep up.
Access to the best telehealth app on the market can be a game-changer. While there are many options, the list above provides the ten distinct choices that can help you tap into what telemedicine offers. Now, when you have a deeper understanding of HIPAA-compliant video conferencing and know what the HIPAA compliance checklist is all about, there is a higher chance you will pick up the telehealth app that can boost the patient experience, expand your market share, and increase revenue.