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November 9, 2012 5:20 PM   Subscribe

I am interested in a business opportunity which entails signing on as a provider of telemedicine. Snowflakes inside.

The model looks very much like Kaiser (everything under one roof electronically) and it provides remote medical, psychotherapy, and psychiatric services. The site isn't up and running yet but the demo site is. It has a really nice interface, and as a patient/client one has access to different types of information tailored to their symptoms at their fingertips. Despite the controversy around providing psychotherapy via Skype, for the population I work with this has great benefits. I'm not concerned with the quality of care because my supervisor provides online services, and UC Davis has been doing so for quite some time now. I'm very conscious of providing the best services I can for clients, so I feel okay about this.

My concern is getting enough clients to make a decent salary a year (more than 35K, less than 50K). I also have concerns about how long this will take to start up. The founders want to go live ASAP esp. in response to Obamacare and the influx of indigents who need (and deserve!) quality healthcare. I imagine it will take longer than they think, though. Obamacare won't go into effect for a while.

TL;DR: You have been a provider or client of telemedicine. Pros/Cons? Providers: How long did it take you to reach the point where you had a consistent caseload?
posted by luciddream928 to Work & Money (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am not a provider of telemedicine, but I do have some experience with the business end. Two issues come to mind immediately:

1) My current employer does not accept Skype as being HIPAA compliant - any of the calls could possibly be observed by Skype employees (I know, it seems like an extremely remote possibility, but that is their legal take on it).

2) Telemedicine is not billable in all cases - Medicare, for instance, requires that the client be in a rural location. Medicaid and third party payer policies vary by location - check out what your local situation is.
posted by gteffertz at 7:25 PM on November 9, 2012

My employer provides some telemedicine services for people in rural areas of our state (mostly psychiatric assessments, not therapy). From what I've heard in treatment team, it is apparently frustrating to bill for remote, even with Medicare.

Like gteffertz says, Skype probably wouldn't be enough to satisfy privacy requirements - not sure if our hospital refuses Skype for HIPAA or JCAHO requirements, or both. I do know that the Dept of Defense offers telemed but through secured comm lines. I'd ask more questions about the security set-up; would you be working through the site itself, or doing it independently through Skype? As a client, I would not use the latter.
posted by catlet at 12:17 PM on November 10, 2012

The service isn't actually Skype; it's another system (I can't use the name publicly right now) which is HIPPA compliant. According to the founders, Magellan has signed on (which is an umbrella insurance company for many others).

Apparently with the passing of Obamacare the insurance companies are looking for a way to provide these services with less expense and according to the founders they are open to telemedicine.

Thank you for the comments, all good things to consider and inquire about.
posted by luciddream928 at 10:58 AM on November 12, 2012

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