Practices in search of a better telehealth set-up may appreciate the variety of features available in these three HIPAA-compliant platforms.
If you intend to offer telehealth options to your patients beyond the pandemic, you may want to consider upgrading your current set-up. Do you need a platform that makes it easy to work with groups or patients who speak another language or have low internet bandwidth, for example? A platform that streamlines scheduling and automates reminders? Or maybe you want a HIPAA-compliant platform that allows you to make video and voice calls, and send texts, emails, and documents securely without having to juggle multiple phones, fax lines, or devices?
With so many options on the market, it can be hard to distinguish one platform from another. To help, our panel of psychologists review and rate three user-friendly HIPAA-compliant telehealth platforms that might be the right fit.
Mend is a comprehensive HIPAA-compliant telemedicine platform that focuses on patient engagement to ensure ease of use for clients and decrease no-shows for providers. Mend offers patient self-scheduling, digital intake forms, chat, screen and file sharing, an interactive waiting room, appointment reminders, and electronic health record (EHR) integration. Mend also offers group telehealth scheduling and the capacity for patient communication in multiple languages.
There are three plan levels available with increasing features:
I would recommend Mend for those who are looking for a platform that provides integration and customization to make the digital office as much like the physical practice as possible. Mend is more of an experience than the typical telehealth platform given the ease of using a mobile device for electronic forms, to its Netflix-like Ted Talk waiting room experience, and customizable interface and features. Those who serve clients in rural or remote areas may also benefit from its low bandwidth needs or older device and 2G support. Each feature of Mend takes into consideration the needs of the client and the provider and further optimizes ease of use and patient retainment. Groups can run seamlessly on Mend and soon they will also be able to integrate with Webex, Zoom, and Teams. I had a great experience interacting with Mend and appreciate its focus on feedback and understanding providers’ practice needs while also having staff members with significant experience in mental health.
—JoAnna Romero Cartaya, PhD
“Mend is ideal for practices with six or more clinicians who do not have an integrated telemedicine communication option or if their current option does not support quality patient connections. While Mend is not a comprehensive practice management platform, it offers integration with many EHR platforms and includes innovative features that can help better engage patients and avoid missed revenue. A selling point that Mend emphasizes is that they work to optimize the video connection to ensure high-quality sessions. For people with practices in rural areas, having a reliable platform that fosters telehealth visits is crucial, and Mend appears to address this. Another plus for large practices is that the appointment predictor feature helps you to fill late cancellation spots, thereby increasing revenue. Another advantage is the integration of LanguageLine, which can help your office be more linguistically responsive to clients who speak languages other than English.”
—Charmain F. Jackman, PhD
SecureVideo is a cloud-based telehealth platform focused on providing flexible feature options with secure, high-quality video and readily available customer support. Its HIPAA-compliant video and audio conferencing platform is built on Zoom, which must be downloaded by both the client and therapist prior to participating in a session. In addition to typical Zoom platform offerings, SecureVideo provides features to assist psychotherapy practice, including scheduling assistance, branding/customization, ability to create electronic forms, online payment options, and ability to schedule and set reminders for clients in either text messaging or via email. SecureVideo can be used for both individual and group therapy sessions, allowing users to have more than 200 participants on a telehealth video, far exceeding what would be needed for a psychologist to successfully implement a group.
SecureVideo offers two solutions, one for small practices available for $50 per month and a second customizable option for health care organizations. This review focuses primarily on the small practice product.
“SecureVideo is precisely what it says it is: a HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform that can be used for individual or group meetings. It is well designed, intuitive to operate and has excellent features for a telehealth platform designed for many specialties, including behavioral health. It exceeded my expectations as a group therapy platform, and I believe it would be good for other clinical group meetings such as case conferences or consultation groups. I found it exceptionally nice to work with.”
—Mary O’Leary Wiley, PhD, ABPP
“I would recommend SecureVideo for practices that offer a range of telehealth services but do not need the bells and whistles of more specialized branding practice experience. Its price point and easy-to-use services provide a good bridge for those practices that are using telehealth and will continue after the public health emergency, rather than adopting a piecemeal approach of using additional software and services to make popular noncompliant video conferencing platforms like Zoom fit. I was excited by the ability to customize informed consent documents and the tutorials on how to create these forms and upfront price points for SecureVideo to create these forms. I also appreciate that SecureVideo was created by those in the mental health field. I enjoyed my experience of demoing with a SecureVideo staff member and appreciated her responsiveness to my questions (that were often within a very short amount of time).”
—JoAnna Romero Cartaya, PhD
Spruce Health is a HIPAA-compliant all-in-one communication platform with tools for email, phone, texting, and faxing, as well as video calls. Spruce focuses on enhancing communication with patients and on team communication among practitioners within a practice. Users can obtain a special Spruce number, which allows psychologists to separate their business line from their personal line all using the same cell phone. Patients can securely share files, videos, and photos. Spruce also includes prebuilt screening assessments to help providers collect information asynchronously. Spruce is available for Android, iOS, and the web.
Spruce offers two plan levels:
Spruce offers a free 14-day trial period.
“I would definitely recommend Spruce to my colleagues. The platform is easy to navigate and it addresses many providers’ concerns about communicating with patients through voice calls and voicemails. Given the features that you obtain from Spruce, it is definitely worth the value. However, you would likely want to lose your landline to save money.
Spruce makes it very convenient to communicate with clients and to share documents all in the palm of your hand. It can also be used by providers who do not have an affordable platform for video calls.”
—Charmain F. Jackman, PhD
“As communication options expand beyond the olden days of office hours and receptionists, a nimbler communication system for clients and psychologists is needed and I think that Spruce is an excellent platform for this. Spruce saves psychologists from juggling phones, faxes, emails, and texts, while keeping all communications secure and HIPAA-compliant. It allows the practitioner to respond and engage with clients when away from the office, bringing office flexibility to a new level. Spruce emphasizes that their mission is to expand access to health care, and a BAA is provided. The website offers descriptions of various types of health care settings and ways that Spruce is used effectively, and many of the examples highlight diverse practice settings.”
—Mary O’Leary Wiley, PhD, ABPP
Categories rated from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most positive score.
|Available Features||Does the software have all the features your practice needs? What are the key features? What is lacking?||1-Missing many key features; 5- Has all the features our practice needs and more|
|Ease of Use||Is it easy to navigate? Is it customizable?||1- Very difficult; 5- Very easy|
|Functionality||Does it perform well? Is it web-based? Is there an app?||1- Very poor; 5- Very well|
|Customer Support||Is customer support responsive when needed? Do they provide support through the following contact options: Phone, email, online, educational resources, video tutorials?||1- Very unresponsive; 5- very responsive|
|Value for Money||Does this software provide good value for the money spent?||1- Poor value for money; 5- Highly valuable|
|Overall Rating||Would you recommend this software to other psychologists? Why or why not? Summarize your thoughts on the software.||1- Strongly do not recommend; 5- Strongly recommend|
Applications reviewed September 2021
This column discusses various software and applications available to psychologists for their professional use. The views expressed in this column are the views of the authors and do not reflect the views of APA or any of its divisions or subunits. All authors have no financial interests in the apps or software discussed. APA does not recommend or endorse any practitioners, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned in this column; those who use these applications or products do so at their own risk. Please direct updates and feedback about mental health technologies to Office of Health Care Innovation staff.