Updated: Dec 23, 2022
Since the beginning of the pandemic, telemedicine has been adopted in many countries to keep medical workers and patients safe from COVID-19 infection during some types of primary and specialty healthcare services. Thankfully, the applications of telemedicine have been shown to improve access to care in many other contexts as well. With so many new telemedicine technologies now available, healthcare providers must do their homework to choose the best telemedicine platforms for their organization, location, and patients.
Types of Telemedicine Technology
There are four types of telemedicine technology:
Synchronous. Synchronous telemedicine takes place in real time. It is a virtual medical consultation that takes place via videoconference, phone call, or live chat. It can be used for some types of healthcare appointments and works well for patients who have internet-ready devices and high-speed internet access.
Remote patient monitoring. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) uses medical devices that allow care providers to observe and record patients’ vital signs from any distance. It is cost effective and frequently used with patients who have chronic diseases.
Store-and-forward. Also known as asynchronous telehealth, store-and-forward telemedicine allows patient data to be collected and stored in the cloud. This allows medical staff to access it remotely, and from various locations at the time of their choosing. This technology works well in rural areas, as specialists who are located far from the patient can access it and advise patients’ primary care providers.
Mobile health. Mobile health is sometimes called mHealth. It uses commercial mobile technology like smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices to monitor patient vital signs, sleep cycles, diet, weight loss, and more. Mobile health can help care providers to recommend health-related apps to patients; it works well for patients who routinely use tech tools for health purposes.
Top Telemedicine Platforms: Pros and Cons
What makes a telemedicine technology type or platform a good one for a particular community can depend heavily on cultural, socioeconomic, and technological factors. Major examples include culturally sensitive and budget-friendly services as well as patient access to internet-ready devices and high-speed internet. When barriers to remote healthcare can be overcome by a high-quality platform, it can dramatically improve the ability of patients to receive essential medical services, even those in medical deserts and underinvested communities.
Determining which is the best telemedicine platform is always subjective, as each has pros and cons, and some platforms are mentioned more frequently in reviews by medical and tech experts. Here are just a few popular examples:
Teladoc was founded in 2002 and is the longest-running telehealth platform in the US. It received several awards in 2020 and 2021. The company is on a mission to offer accessible healthcare for all Americans and to care for the whole patient.
Can be used in a wide range of health categories, including for pediatric, non-emergency, dermatological, psychological, and sexual health services
Can be used to analyze lab results and get prescriptions
Some users occasionally experience technical difficulties
Account setup can require more time and effort than with other platforms
Sesame Care has been in business since 2008, and already works with more than 10,000 healthcare providers in the US. It was launched expressly to provide patients—even and especially uninsured patients—affordable and accessible healthcare services.
Can be used for dermatological, dental, psychological, general wellness, chronic, diabetes, men’s health, and sleep health concerns
Can book same-day appointment
Currently boasts a 95% customer satisfaction rate
Offers free shipping on medications
Long wait times
Documentation not available
MedicallHome is a brand owned by parent company Salud Interactiva. As one option among many in Mexico’s sophisticated telecommunications landscape, it complements the nationally subsidized public insurance system, Seguro Popular. MedicallHome partners with more than 10,000 healthcare providers.
Provides access to licensed doctors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Designed for low- and middle-income patients; can be accessed through any phone, internet-ready or otherwise
Offers life insurance as well as discounts on dental, vision, and retail bills
Uses standardized protocols developed in cooperation with the Cleveland Clinic
App does not have many ratings and receives a score of 2.7 on Apple’s App Store
Launched in 2014, PlushCare focuses on providing high-quality, direct-to-consumer healthcare services to all patients regardless of insurance status. It has board-certified providers in all US states and can be a good choice for patients with urgent concerns and ongoing conditions.
Offers a free 30-day trial and affordable pricing structure
Provides same-day appointments
Boasts a 97% approval rating
Some communication problems have been reported
No stimulants or controlled substances can be prescribed through this platform
Originating at the University of Utah, this 2014 platform now serves approximately 50,000 providers. Doxy.me is designed to overcome barriers to traditional healthcare, and to telehealth as well. It meets security requirements around the globe and is HIPAA compliant.
Offers a free trial, includes a “free forever” tier of services, and is generally affordable
Is a browser-based platform with no need for software installation
Provides secure alternative tools to video conferencing, such as a live chat option
No mobile app is available at this time
Users may experience occasional glitches, such as connectivity issues and screen freezing
High-Quality Telemedicine With BeamUp and Beam Healthcare
Beam Healthcare provides telemedicine services to medical centers and healthcare systems of every size and location. This makes healthcare more accessible for families and children in low-income communities and medical deserts across the globe.
Beam Healthcare’s partner BeamUp offers programming to help underinvested youth succeed in every aspect of life. High-quality healthcare, education, and other support systems are extremely important for helping young people prepare for a bright future. Our goal is to provide opportunities for youth and young adults of lower socioeconomic status to equip themselves with the tools needed to lift themselves out of poverty and violence.
At the core of BeamUp is access to quality education about a healthy lifestyle, professional education, plant-based whole foods, making climate-friendly choices, and mindfulness. Help us support and teach kids by shopping for swag or donating today!