Category: Competition

Teledoc and American Well Fight Over Telemedicine Software Patent

american well vs teledoc

American Well has filed a lawsuit against TeleDoc. The suit claims that TeleDoc violated American Well’s intellectual property rights . The news comes right on the heels of TeleDoc’s recent tangle with the Texas Medical Board.

According to FierceHealthIT, the issue is over American Well’s patent called “connecting consumers with service providers.” It concerns the backend system by which American Well matches care requests with available providers.  American Well says that “Teladoc is well aware that it has been engaging in and continues to engage in the unauthorized practice of American Well’s patented inventions.” They go on to claim that TeleDoc applied for a license to use American Well’s patents, but that American Well denied their request.

TeleDoc however is fighting back. It’s CEO Jason Gorevic told MobiHealthNews, “We very strongly believe that those patents are invalid. For one, American Well’s claims of being ‘first-to-market’ are demonstrably false due to the fact that Teladoc and others were providing telehealth long before American Well was even formed as a company. Second, the patents in question are impermissibly broad and cover matters that are too obvious to be patented.”

There’s no question that TeleDoc’s business model is not original or unique. The technology for telemedicine has been around for over a decade. But it’s hard to see how American Well could win this fight in court. After all, “connecting consumers with service providers” is something than many companies have done for years. Their claims sound a lot like patent trolling, that is, suing someone for “stealing” an idea that was already widely known. Whoever wins this fight, neither party can legitimately claim to be the world’s number-one telemedicine provider.

Not long ago TeleDoc had the largest market share in telemedicine. But they were late to adopt video, and they slipped from their #1 rank this year.

American Well started out building patient portals for hospitals. But their video solution, licensed from Vidyo, was expensive and complicated. They recently pivoted in order to offer their own online doctor service, to copy the successful MDLIVE and TelaDoc and business model.

Lonely Nights for Vidyo at ATA 2015 Exhibition

VSee had a great exhibition at this year’s ATA 2015.  As you can see, even at the exhibit closing time, interested participants are swarming our booth, learning about VSee waiting rooms and ultra-light home care kits.  Meanwhile, the Vidyo booth right across from us is cold and empty, and their staff have taken off early.

Thanks to everyone who came to see us this year and helped make this year telemedicine’s coming out year!

VSee booth ATA 2015

end of Day 1

VSee booth ATA 2015

VSee booth ATA 2015

end of Day 2

 

Running out of time to find a Google Helpouts alternative

need helpouts alternativeJust one more week and Google will be shutting down Helpouts, their expert-advice platform and marketplace. Health providers who use Google Helpouts will need a new solution so that they can continue offering telemedicine. The good news is that with the growing number of telemedicine services offering video doctor visits, there are plenty of Helpouts alternatives out there.

While the idea behind Google Helpouts was worthy, it never really caught on. Google itself  says, “unfortunately, [Helpouts] hasn’t grown at the pace we had expected.” Part of the problem is that there is so much free expertise available online, from blogs to iTunes University to Howcast on YouTube. It’s no wonder that Helpouts got buried all that great information.

Another problem was the user experience. Writing for VentureBeat, Mark Sullivan tells the story of a mental health provider disappointed with Google Helpouts:

Lewisville, Texas-based counselor Will Singleton was excited about Helpouts when he heard it had launched. But it soon became clear to Singleton that Helpouts wasn’t going to fit into his practice like he hoped it would. The people who called the service didn’t have just a few questions that could be handled in a short amount of time. In Singleton’s case, the people who he talked to online came to the service with problems that were best treated with long-term, regular sessions. ‘These were just people who were trying to get free therapy.’

google helpouts health

While the Helpouts marketplace may have been an easy way to get some Google juice, it seems to have lacked the design and credibility needed for a healthcare delivery platform. It required patients to get a Google+ social media account as well as use Google Wallet to pay for sessions. It lists free pet health advice alongside safe dieting training sessions and $150/hour radiologist consults. Furthermore, there has always been a question of how Google was going  to charge providers for using Helpouts since their 20% per visit fee for other Helpouts users is illegal for healthcare visits.

VSee provides a simple waiting room experience that fits easily into medical workflows, whether it’s a walk-in or scheduled visit. It allows physicians to use a platform that can be trusted to protect patient privacy.

As a health provider, your expertise is valuable. And time is money. If you’ve been using Helpouts, write to sales@vsee.com and we’ll help you make the switch.

Google Helpouts Shutting Down in April

Google Helpouts shutting downGoogle has announced they are shutting down Helpouts, their platform for experts to offer advice by video, on April 20. With Google Helpouts shutting down, health providers who use the service to consult with clients will have to find an alternative to Helpouts.

In the Guardian Liberty Voice, Alley Hines writes:

There were hopes of taking it into the medical community where people could consult with their doctor, nurse, or even the veterinarian. Offering the search for medical information at no charge was one way that Google promoted Helpouts.

But apparently even the lure of “free” for providers wasn’t enough get Google Helpouts off the ground. And at one point Google was even giving away free video doctor visits. The search giant’s response as to why it’s shutting down Helpouts: “unfortunately, it hasn’t grown at the pace we had expected.”

Of course, it was always a big question mark whether Helpouts would succeed among the medical community. While it got promising reviews, let’s just say Google isn’t exactly your go-to man when it comes to matters of privacy and the healthcare community is pretty strict when it comes to things like that. Google also hasn’t had a great track record when it comes to understanding the health industry – consider Google Health, its other failed attempt to get into the consumer health door.

In full disclosure, during last year’s ATA trade show, VSee even had people from the Google Helpouts team coming over to get a demo of the VSee virtual waiting room in order to understand how we structured our simple telemedicine workflow.

As a health expert, you need a video solution that matches your unique requirements. Helpouts may have been a great way to get found online, but it’s definitely not the best way to show that you’re serious about a patient’s privacy. In any case, don’t rely on a generic product built for the masses. Choose VSee – it’s 100 percent HIPAA-secure and specifically designed for telemedicine.

How NOT to Run Your Online Practice

Writing for the Atlantic Online, Joseph Burgo describes his experience providing psychotherapy sessions over video as a mental health provider.

Burgo has some interesting things to say about expatriates and the psychological problems they confront. But his article suffers a major flaw: he doesn’t realize that his online practice is unethical.

That’s because he uses Skype for his patient sessions. It is well documented that Skype does not comply with HIPAA. Furthermore, Skype has always been in the hot seat for leaving a backdoor access to encrypted user data. Therefore, the private information that Burgo’s patients share with him may not be secure.

Mental-health providers should do their research before choosing a video conference solution. While Skype may be a household name, it has a poor reputation for being secure, and just doesn’t come across as a very professional video chat tool. Besides, there are more than a few alternatives. VSee’s Cloud Medical Office, for example, is 100 percent HIPAA-compliant, and we offer a complete workflow solution that allows psychologists to send prescriptions, schedule appointments, and keep their records secure.

Read more of VSee’s advantages over Skype.