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.

TouchCare: a Hot Addition to Telemedicine

VSee is happy to welcome TouchCare to an already buzzing telemedicine market, where they join such big-hitters as MDLIVE, TelaDoc, American Well, Health Tap, and Doctor on Demand.

Here are two pieces of good news. Last month, TouchCare secured $4 million in venture capital. And at the same time, they introduced their new app in beta, which allows physicians to connect with patients through their smartphone or tablet.

TouchCare’s senior management is made up of former investment stars like Damian Gilbert. Their arrival in telemedicine is just more proof that, now that it’s becoming almost ubiquitous, smart investors see the opportunity for a gold rush.

TouchCare

And it’s not just venture capitalists getting in on the action. Insurance companies, too, see the need to provide their customers with better service through telemedicine. For nearly two years, Wellpoint has paid its member physicians to conduct video consultations with patients. And Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is promoting an app for tablets and smartphones so that their members can access a doctor by video. In fact, you don’t even have to join Blue Cross / Blue Shield – you can sign up for LiveHealth Online and pay $49 for a virtual visit with a doctor. The service is already available in most states, and with Anthem having added the service to health plans in at least seven more states this year, you could be fully covered for all your video doctor consultations.

Yes, telemedicine is definitely the hot ticket right now. And this growth will only continue as people realize how telemedicine makes patients’ lives better.

RingMD: A New Telehealth App from Singapore

This very moment, several new applications and devices are entering the market. And the telehealth market is truly global. In Singapore, an app called RingMD launched this month. It promises to connect patients to doctors via smartphone. But for now, it appears limited to Southeast Asia. And it’s only available for Android devices (since it is using webRTC). RingMD has been around for a few years and has a dozen people.

ring md logo

You can read more about RingMD here. But it’s not clear from this article whether RingMD offers anything more than video chat. Most doctors need additional tools to schedule appointments and store records. But it appears that RingMD doesn’t offer any of that. Here is a review of virtual doctor evisit services for more information.

Which offers a nice segue to some exciting news. Next month VSee will launch a new product we call Cloud Medical Office. This brand-new service provides health care providers a complete practice of their own – including scheduling, file storage, and record archives – so that they never have to worry about putting together the right tools, but can run their entire office virtually and on-the-go.

Our CEO Milton Chen will debut Cloud Medical Office at the mHealth Summit in December.