“Can I Use Skype or Zoom for Telemedicine or Virtual Care?”
2 years ago
You must not.
The ‘legal reason’ for not using Skype or Zoom for telemedicine
Because, according to the Canadian data privacy laws - imposed by federal and provincial governments - the telemedicine tool must be compliant with privacy laws.
And in Canada, there are different privacy laws applicable to healthcare providers and digital healthcare tools in different provinces.
For instance, PIPEDA applies at the federal level. PHIPA applies in Ontario. PIA applies in Alberta and so on.
And both Skype and Zoom are not compliant with all these laws. Actually, it is not feasible for them to be compliant with all data privacy laws.
Because these platforms are not designed to handle the medical data of patients securely.
Thus you must not use Skype, Zoom or Facetime for virtual care as they put medical data privacy and confidentiality at risk and that’s not what privacy commissioners recommend.
You should know this fact:
Skype is not HIPAA compliant. To make it HIPAA compliant, you must purchase the Enterprise E3 or E5 package which ensures the privacy of medical data.
What if you still use Skype or Zoom for telemedicine or virtual care
We never encourage anyone to use Skype or Zoom for virtual care practice. But there are many healthcare providers who are still using it.
Recently, in Oklahoma, USA - a doctor got busted for practising telemedicine using Skype.
He used to prescribe controlled dangerous drugs using Skype and the patient known as R.C. died while under that doctor’s care.
Now, leaving all legal reasons behind, let’s talk about the clinical reasons.
The ‘clinical’ reasons for not using Zoom or Skype for telemedicine
First of all, telemedicine is not only about video calls.
It is all about the entire clinical workflow - from appointment booking to virtual consultation, ePrescription and follow-up meetings.
Thus, healthcare providers who are planning to use Zoom and Skype for telehealth should ask these questions first,
- How would I let my patients book the appointment?
If they still need to call you to book the virtual appointment, you are not providing virtual care at all!
Even if you take appointments on call, you still need to send a video calling link to each patient manually.
And to join the video call, your patient must install Skype or Zoom!
So, this way - rather than providing them with convenience in the name of virtual care, you are providing them with the inconvenience!
- How would I know the medical history of the patients?
Skype or Zoom does not let you integrate EHR to access patients’ data in real-time.
If you are thinking to ask patients directly regarding their medical history, it is a time-consuming and ineffective approach. (And no one remembers his entire medical history!)
- How would I write the ePrescription?
If you are thinking of writing the prescription on paper, taking an image and sending it to patients, it is a time-consuming, insecure and non-compliant practice.
- How would I write the medical note and sick note?
Skype or Zoom does not have the answer for this need!
- How would I write the referral note and send it to secondary care providers?
With Skype and Zoom, you simply can’t!
- How would I charge?
People who are uninsured have to pay you. But how? Zoom and Skype do not support payment!
So, if Zoom and Skype are not legally and clinically recommended for telemedicine, what is the other option.
The best alternative to Zoom and Skype for telemedicine is your own telemedicine app
Yes, you should use a dedicated telemedicine app to offer a true virtual care experience to the patients.
Because it streamlines the entire clinical workflow and makes you offer virtual care in the true sense.
And it is compliant with all applicable data privacy laws.
Following is your clinical workflow with a dedicated telemedicine app:
- Easy appointment booking
Patients can book appointments online within minutes without calling anyone. If the appointment date or time gets changed by the physician, the patients get an automatic update.
Additionally, patients can book the appointment based on their medical condition or the medical specialty they are looking for.
- Easy access to medical data of patients
Thanks to EHR/EMR integration, healthcare providers can get the real-time medical data of patients. With this data, they can offer quality care.
Healthcare providers can search for drugs and write the ePrescription on the telemedicine platform itself.
This prescription is later sent to the selected pharmacy of the patient automatically.
- Write medical note/sick note
With many ready-to-use templates, the healthcare providers can write the medical note and sick note within minutes which can be accessible in PDF format.
- Write referral notes and refer to specialists
The primary healthcare providers can easily refer patients to the secondary care providers with an easy-to-write and easy-to-generate referral note.
The referral note gets generated automatically and here, primary care providers only need to write a refer message.
The app writes the rest of the things such as patients’ details and your introductory message by itself.
- Medication reminder
The app reminds patients to take medication on time and also reminds them to book follow-up meetings.
The app verifies the health card number of users. And if it is valid, the app does not charge users anything.
For uninsured patients, the app has a payment module from where users can pay the fee using several payment methods.
Switching from Skype/Zoom to your own telemedicine app/web is easy with us!
We’re Ontario-based tech and compliance experts.
We have been proactive in the Canadian healthcare industry for 7 years.
We accommodate app developers, app designers, business experts and compliance experts who all work together to build the best clone or custom telemedicine app.
We also offer a HIPAA/PHIPA/PIPEDA and other provincial privacy laws compliant white-label telemedicine solution.
Being a Canadian company, we understand the gravity of compliance.
And we clearly understand the working of the Canadian healthcare industry.
This industry and region-specific knowledge help us to address the most unique challenges of healthcare providers and systems.
On the concluding note, we are thrilled to share our most recent case study on telemedicine app development.