What is an On-line Healthcare Practice?
An on-line healthcare practice is a medical practice that provides services through the internet.
It typically involves using technology such as an Electronic Medical Record System (EMR) or practice management software, and billing software to manage patient health records and transactions.
Additionally, it may include using secure telecommunications like video meeting, asynchronous messaging, and telephone. A website and social media platforms help patients and clients to find your services.
Technology Supports On-line Healthcare Business
Telemedicine and virtual healthcare has exploded in the last few years. Patients-–and healthcare providers—are more willing to deliver health services differently. The rules guiding how healthcare providers are compensated or paid
for virtual services has changed. This has opened the gates to new opportunities for healthcare entrepreneurs.
More technology options offer the small business owner to purchase services from reputable vendors with privacy secure programs. The software as a service and cloud-based hosting, affordable business grade computer systems for home-based businesses, and high speed internet infrastructure makes it easier for healthcare entrepreneurs to start online healthcare practices.
Why Start an On-line Healthcare Practice?
Individual healthcare providers may want a practice that mixes in-person consultation with virtual follow-up visits.
(See my Practice Management Nuggets podcast, Why Medical Practices Will Have to Offer Telemedicine in the Future to Compete | Episode #095 interview with Dr. Michael Greiwe)
Others may want to a work experience where they are the boss and work from a location of their choice.
Some will keep their practice small—themselves, perhaps with administration support.
Some will hire a few practitioners to deliver a small suite of services.
Still others may develop a virtual workforce spread across the country.
Each of the above models benefit from these advantages.
1. Access to a larger patient population
Starting an online healthcare practice allows providers including physicians, pharmacists, dentists, mental health, nutrition, nurses (and more!) to access a larger patient population. By using technology such as secure messaging, appointment requests and prescription refills, patients can get the care they need without having to travel to a brick-and-mortar office.
This allows providers to reach more people in rural areas where it may be difficult for them to open up a brick-and-mortar practice. It also gives patients more flexibility in managing their health care needs from anywhere at any time of day or night.
2. Increased convenience for patients
Starting an online healthcare practice increases convenience for patients by allowing them to manage their health and communicate with their provider's office 24/7 from anywhere online or using a mobile app. The patient portal provides secure messaging and may provide patients access to their own lab results, for example.
3. Lower overhead costs
Starting an on-line healthcare practice can help to offset some of the operational costs. It allows you to work independently or join a group practice, which can save on start-up expenses.
This reduces the need for equipment, furniture, and other resources needed to run a traditional brick-and-mortar clinic.
4. Ability to offer specialty services
Starting an online healthcare practice allows providers to offer specialty services to their patients in a convenient and cost-effective manner. By eliminating the need for brick-and-mortar locations, online healthcare providers can reduce overhead costs and offer lower rates for services. Additionally, online healthcare providers can offer more specialized care than traditional practices due to the increased efficiency and access to a larger geographic reach.
5. Increased efficiency thanks to technology
Software as a service model and cloud based hosting allows the small business access to equipment and support previously only available to larger businesses.
6. Opportunity to offer new services, such as telemedicine
Virtual services and communication technology allows you to offer more convenient services that are accessible from anywhere at any time without having to be physically present in the office or clinic setting. Additionally, it opens up opportunities for expanding into new markets that may not have been previously available due to geographical restrictions.
7. Increased profits thanks to decreased overhead costs
Starting an on-line healthcare practice can help increase profits due to decreased overhead costs like commercial office space.
8. Ability to meet the needs of a growing population
The ability to meet the growing needs of a population is a compelling reason to start an on-line healthcare practice. With more and more people around the world struggling to access basic healthcare services, an on-line healthcare practice can provide convenient, affordable, and accessible care for those who need it most. Offering online consultations that are accessible 24/7 via smartphone or laptop computer reduces the barrier of entry preventing those in rural communities from accessing quality advice when they need it most.
What Compliance Requirements Do I Need to be Aware of When Starting an On-line Healthcare Practice?
When starting an on-line healthcare practice, you should be aware of the compliance requirements that keep healthcare regulated and secure for people across the country. These include:
- Registering as a business entity.
- Undergoing a credentialing process with professional colleges.
- Acquiring EMR, computer equipment, and software to handle health records in compliance with provincial privacy legislation and professional colleges' standards of practice.
- Billing payment processors for fee-for-service and uninsured services.
- Policies, procedures, privacy and security risk assessment, and privacy impact assessment to securely manage personal health information across all technologies.
It is critical that your legal compliance and privacy compliance practices are in writing. This includes your contracts with vendors, employees, partner, and patients and clients.
What is a roadmap to start an online healthcare practice?
Join the 60-minute webinar for time-saving tips and a roadmap of critical steps on your journey to open your regulated healthcare practice. You will break through the fear and overwhelm around legal and privacy issues in starting a healthcare practice online.
Co-hosted by Canadian business lawyer Corinne Boudreau of Online Legal Essentials Inc. and Jean L. Eaton, Practical Privacy Coach & Practice Management Mentor of Information Managers Ltd.