Telehealth

Telehealth Video-Conferencing Platform Choices for Psychotherapists

Posted by Bonnie McKeegan, LCSW

As I spent time editing and updating the Telehealth chapter in the newest version of the guide, which by the way is now called 14 Concrete (but not so hard!) Steps to Private Practice, I realized there are so many more choices for telehealth video conferencing than there were just two years ago. No doubt the pandemic sparked big growth in the market.

If you are looking for telehealth online video options for your psychotherapy practice, check out the list below.

When making your decision, of course, you’ll consider cost, but you should also think about ease of use (does the client need an app or can they access from any device without an app?) and any systems like Microsoft Teams or Google Workspace that you can use for multiple purposes in your practice and that happen to include video-conferencing.

And don’t forget to choose a service that offers the Business Associate Agreement (BAA) that brings the service into HIPAA compliance. When you choose a platform, you might have to complete a few extra steps in order to get that BAA in place.

Telehealth-specific online video platforms that offer that crucial Business Associate Agreement (BAA):

I use these two platforms:

  • Doxy.me – https://doxy.me/ The free version includes the BAA. With a paid version you can modify your Waiting Room and have additional features like group participants and screenshare. You can see my waiting room here: www.doxy.me/bonniemckeeganlcsw One advantage of doxy.me is your waiting room URL (the link to see you) is always the same. Your clients can access it from anywhere without needing to click an appointment-specific link like with an EHR platform or another platform where a meeting is “scheduled” (like on Google Meet or Zoom).
  • Google Meet with Google Workspace Plan https://meet.google.com/ For $6/mo you get a whole ‘lotta goods along with that BAA. I recently upgraded to the $12/mo version of Google Workspace for more storage cuz hey, it’s a great place for my gazzillion photos and now I have the option of recording meetings. It also includes tons of other services I love to use (Google Drive, Spreadsheets, Forms, Docs, Calendar, etc.). Google Meet works nicely for group therapy or sessions with family members in different places.

Here’s the list of other options I’ve found:

Several on the list are through Electronic Health Record (EHR) platforms.

If you are thinking of starting an EHR (or switching) and looking for one that offers a telehealth platform, check out my blog post about Simple Practice. Get a discount for your first paid month ($100 if you start in November 2021 / $50 normally). If you use my link, I get the same credit you get.

I used Simple Practice’s telehealth option for a while. It worked for most clients, but two complications occurred:

1) It required an app on the client’s phone and two clients couldn’t add anything to their phones. I got tired of keeping track of who could use the Simple Practice appointment link and who needed to use my www.doxy.me/bonniemckeeganlcsw Waiting Room.

2) Like other EHRs, when you use the Simple Practice telehealth platform, you create a unique appointment link. The client is set up in the system as part of your Video Office. The system pulls that information onto the claim and labels the Place of Service (POS) as Telehealth (02). This is usually fine for commercial insurance companies who want you to use POS 02. However, most of my clients are Medicare (different POS requirements than commercial insurance) so I’d have to manually fix the claim (change the Place of Service to Office – 11) before submitting claims.

So, in the interest of saving time, avoiding confusion, and submitting accurate claims without an extra step (cuz efficiency gives me more time to take a bazillion more photos), I switched all of my clients over to Doxy.me. And as a bonus, this solution saved me the $10 per month fee for telehealth within Simple Practice.

With all of the options available, there really is no reason to use a video platform that does not offer the Business Associate Agreement (BAA) (which makes your use of online video for your psychotherapy clients HIPAA compliant).

This decision can be overwhelming. After trying different options, I have found what works best for my practice.

If you need help figuring out your best option, feel free to contact me.

If you feel inclined, drop a line in the comments and let us know your favorite telehealth platform. I am sure there are more out there I haven’t discovered yet!

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

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