The last, but certainly not the least important item to consider for store-and-forward telemedicine is cost. Although telemedicine offers cost savings and improved practice efficiencies, it is not free. Also, the exact cost can vary depending on many factors, such as the size of medical content that is being stored for later retrieval. For example, high definition videos take up more digital space than mobile photos or text questionnaires. The telemedicine vendors often use one or a combination of the following pricing strategies:
- Setup fees
- A monthly or yearly ongoing fee, which may be per provider or clinic location
- Revenue sharing—the telemedicine vendor either takes a percent or a set dollar amount of each telemedicine patient visit
In addition to the above-mentioned standard fees, the telemedicine vendors may charge for additional features such as EMR integration, e-prescribing, white labeling, insurance eligibility lookup, etc.
In general, telemedicine vendors typically do not publicize their prices because many of their customers have unique requirements. Some clinicians may view telemedicine as a way to make medical treatment affordable for the patients, while others position their virtual visit offering as a premium service. Some clinics may only want to use telemedicine for low-risk follow-up visits, while others see it as a marketing opportunity to attract new patients in the area.
The provider must consider the cost of the solution and whether it makes sense for their practice. For those clinicians who are not sure whether telemedicine is for the right for them because they are not sure how often they will use it, the percent of visit fee pricing model makes the most sense. This allows the provider to try telemedicine essentially cost and risk-free. And, as the clinic increases the volume of their telemedicine visits, the revenue share approach may no longer make financial sense. In this case, a practice should choose a recurring monthly fee option.