Telehealth services can add benefits to your practice and help your clients. This guide will help you prepare for your Telehealth appointments.
- Preparing your practice for Telehealth
- Turning Telehealth on in your account
- Creating a custom Consent for Telehealth Consultation intake form
- Enabling your camera and microphone access for Telehealth
- Starting a Telehealth appointment
- Testing call quality
- Manually sharing a Telehealth appointment link
- Using Telehealth for multiple clients at the same time
- Using Telehealth on a mobile device
- Getting your clients ready for Telehealth
Note: See Telehealth FAQs to find answers to commonly asked questions from clinicians, and Using Telehealth features to learn more about the various features you can use for virtual sessions. For information you can share with clients, see Getting started with Telehealth for clients.
Note: In December of 2023, we began a phased rollout to customers with a change to our navigation menu to simplify the customer experience. If you don’t see this in your account yet, but would like to use it immediately, please submit a help request for assistance.
Preparing your practice for Telehealth
The following steps will help you prepare to begin offering Telehealth appointments.
Laws and regulations
Most clinicians can offer Telehealth, but it’s important to learn about your local laws and regulations. These guidelines are updated often so it’s a best practice to check in regularly and stay informed.
We recommend that you:
- Check to see whether your state has a parity law covering telemedicine by visiting the American Telemedicine Association's State Policy Center and The Center for Connected Health Policy's (CCHP)
- Visit the Medicare Telehealth Payment Eligibility Analyzer to see what you can expect in terms of reimbursement.
Billing for Telehealth
If you accept insurance and plan to file claims for Telehealth appointments, reach out to your insurance payers to determine what their requirements are and what they cover. To learn more, see Navigating Telehealth insurance billing - Ask A Biller, presented by SimplePractice.
You can also download our Telehealth Resources Directory to find links to legal, educational, and insurance resources for Telehealth.
Prepare your office
To prepare your office for successful Telehealth appointments:
- Identify a place that's quiet, private, and free of distractions.
- To keep background noise to a minimum, close any doors and shut any windows. Consider hanging a “Do not disturb” sign on any doors to avoid interruptions.
- Before each appointment, check what’s in the client’s field of vision and remove clutter and unnecessary objects.
When designing your Telehealth room, pay attention to furniture placement, lighting, acoustics, and wall color.
- If the wall color is too light, the camera lets in less light, resulting in darkened faces. If the wall color is too dark, the camera lets in more light, making faces look washed out or too light.
- If you can, try to choose a flat paint color in gray or light blue to avoid any reflection off the wall.
- Make sure your light source is in front of your face, not behind you.
- Avoid harsh lighting sources, as well as backlighting from windows or overhead lights.
- External cameras should be mounted so that both participants are looking directly at each other during a video appointment. If the camera is placed too high above the monitor, you’ll appear to be looking down at the monitor rather than directly at the client.
- It can be distracting for clients when the clinician isn’t consistently maintaining eye contact because they’re looking at another screen or taking notes. It’s a good practice to be mindful of this and explain to clients when looking away may be necessary.
- Wall color
Check your technology
When you start to offer Telehealth appointments, it’s important to check your device(s) before your first appointment. To check your technology:
- Your device
- Internet speed
Test your internet connection speed using this Speed Test. We recommend a minimum of 10 mbps for the best quality.
- Test your internet connection speed using this Speed Test. We recommend a minimum of 10 mbps for the best quality.
Note: If multiple clinicians in your practice will be holding Telehealth appointments simultaneously, we recommend working with your internet service provider to increase your internet package. For multiple clinicians, a bandwidth of at least 35 mbps, but preferably more, is recommended.
Test the process
Before your first appointment, we recommend holding a practice Telehealth appointment. Ask a friend if you can send them a link to join an appointment and test the video platform. See Starting a Telehealth appointment to learn how to begin.
Spread the word
You may have clients who aren’t familiar with Telehealth. To help with Telehealth adoption from your clients, you can:
- Promote Telehealth as an option for clients on your website, in your practice newsletter, via email, and on your social media page
- If clients call to book or reschedule appointments, offer Telehealth as an alternative
Make sure to enable online appointment requests through SimplePractice and create Availability blocks for Telehealth so that clients will see a virtual office option when requesting appointments through the Client Portal
- For answers to some questions they may have, clients can see Telehealth FAQs for clients
Turning Telehealth on in your account
Note: Telehealth is included at no additional cost on the Essential and Plus plans, and it’s available as an add-on feature on the Starter plan for an additional $15/month. If you're on the Starter plan, you can manage your subscription in Settings > Subscription Information. For more on SimplePractice pricing, see SimplePractice pricing and subscription FAQs.
To enable Telehealth:
- Navigate to Settings > My Practice > Locations
- Under Telehealth, click Turn on
Important: When you signed up for your trial account with SimplePractice, you also agreed to our Terms of Service and Business Associate Agreement. All features in our platform are covered in this agreement, including Telehealth. See Telehealth FAQs for more information.
Enabling Telehealth in your account will create a new Video Office location in Settings > My Practice > Locations.
Note: To offer Telehealth appointments through your Client Portal and appointment-request widget for online appointment requests, you'll have to create Availability blocks for your Video Office location. See Managing your Availability to learn how to set this up.
Creating a custom Consent for Telehealth Consultation intake form
To add a new consent document for Telehealth:
- Navigate to Settings > Client Portal > Shared Documents and Files
- Click + Consent Document
Note: For more information on customizing and adding new practice documents, see Customizing and adding new practice documents.
Below, you’ll find a sample Consent for Telehealth Consultation document to copy and paste for your practice intake. Read through the document and customize it for your own practice and local laws. Below that, you'll also find a Spanish Consentimiento Informado de Telehealth document.
[INSERT NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION FOR YOUR PRACTICE HERE]
CONSENT FOR TELEHEALTH CONSULTATION
- I understand that my health care provider wishes me to engage in a telehealth consultation.
- My health care provider explained to me how the videoconferencing technology that will be used to affect such a consultation will not be the same as a direct client/health care provider visit due to the fact that I will not be in the same room as my provider.
- I understand that a telehealth consultation has potential benefits, including easier access to care and the convenience of meeting from a location of my choosing.
- I understand there are potential risks to this technology, including interruptions, unauthorized access, and technical difficulties. I understand that my health care provider or I can discontinue the telehealth consult/visit if it is felt that the videoconferencing connections are not adequate for the situation.
- I have had a direct conversation with my provider, during which I had the opportunity to ask questions in regard to this procedure. My questions have been answered and the risks, benefits, and any practical alternatives have been discussed with me in a language in which I understand.
CONSENT TO USE THE TELEHEALTH BY SIMPLEPRACTICE SERVICE
Telehealth by SimplePractice is the technology service we will use to conduct telehealth videoconferencing appointments. It is simple to use and there are no passwords required to log in. By signing this document, I acknowledge:
- Telehealth by SimplePractice is NOT an Emergency Service and in the event of an emergency, I will use a phone to call 911.
- Though my provider and I may be in direct, virtual contact through the Telehealth Service, neither SimplePractice nor the Telehealth Service provides any medical or healthcare services or advice including, but not limited to, emergency or urgent medical services.
- The Telehealth by SimplePractice Service facilitates videoconferencing and is not responsible for the delivery of any healthcare, medical advice or care.
- I do not assume that my provider has access to any or all of the technical information in the Telehealth by SimplePractice Service – or that such information is current, accurate or up-to-date. I will not rely on my health care provider to have any of this information in the Telehealth by SimplePractice Service.
- To maintain confidentiality, I will not share my telehealth appointment link with anyone unauthorized to attend the appointment.
By signing this form, I certify:
- That I have read or had this form read and/or had this form explained to me.
- That I fully understand its contents including the risks and benefits of the procedure(s).
- That I have been given ample opportunity to ask questions and that any questions have been answered to my satisfaction.
BY SIGNING BELOW I AM AGREEING THAT I HAVE READ, UNDERSTOOD, AND AGREE TO THE ITEMS CONTAINED IN THIS DOCUMENT.
Por la presente doy mi consentimiento para participar en telemedicina como parte de mi psicoterapia. Entiendo que “telemedicina” incluye la práctica de la prestación de atención médica, diagnóstico, consulta, tratamiento, transferencia de datos médicos, y educación usando medios de audio, video, o de datos interactivos.
Entiendo que tengo los siguientes derechos con respeto a telemedicina:
(1) Tengo el derecho a retener o retirar consentimiento en cualquier momento sin afectar mi derecho a atención o tratamiento en el futuro ni arriesgar la pérdida o el retiro de los beneficios de cualquier programa a los que de otro modo tendría derecho.
(2) Las leyes que protegen la confidencialidad de mi información médica también aplican a telemedicina. Como tal, entiendo que la información revelada por mi durante el curso de mi terapia es generalmente confidencial. Sin embargo, existen excepciones obligatorias y permisivas a la confidencialidad, incluyendo, pero no limitado a denunciar el abuso de menores, adultos mayores, adultos dependientes; expresó amenazas de violencia hacia una víctima comprobable; y adonde hago que mi estado mental o emocional se convierta en asunto de interés en un proceso legal.
También entiendo que la difusión de cualquier imagen o información de la interacción de telemedicina a investigadores u otras entidades no ocurrirán sin mi consentimiento por escrito.
(3) Entiendo que hay riesgos y consecuencias de telemedicina, incluyendo, pero no limitado a, la posibilidad de que, a pesar de los esfuerzos razonables de parte de mi terapeuta, que: la transmisión de mi información médica puede ser interrumpida o distorsionado por fallas técnicas; la transmisión de mi información médica puede ser interrumpida por personas no autorizadas; y/o personas no autorizados pueden tener acceso a el almacenamiento electrónico de mis datos médicos.
Además, entiendo que servicios y la atención basado en la telemedicina pueden ser no tan completos como los servicios recibidos cara-a-cara. También entiendo que si mi terapeuta piensa que yo puedo ser mejor servido recibiendo servicios directos (cara-a-cara) y si no puedo ver a mi terapeuta en persona, seré referido a un profesional que puede brindar esos servicios en mi área. Finalmente, entiendo que existe la posibilidad de riesgos y beneficios asociado con cualquier forma de terapia, y que a pesar de los esfuerzos razonables de mi terapeuta puede ser que mi condición no mejore—incluso puede empeorar.
(4) Comprendo que existe la posibilidad de beneficios con el programa de telemedicina, pero no existe garantía alguna respecto a resultados.
(5) Entiendo que tengo el derecho a acceder mi información médica y copias de mi registro médico acuerdo a las leyes de el estado donde recibo mis servicios.
He leído y entiendo este documento de consentimiento al ingreso de servicio de telemedicina con mi terapeuta y todas mis preguntas has sido contestadas satisfactoriamente.
Enabling your camera and microphone access for Telehealth
Clients are not required to install any additional applications on their computers when using Telehealth, as it seamlessly operates within their web browsers. However, devices and browsers need permission to access the camera and microphone. If you or your client can’t see or hear each other, it’s likely that the browser doesn’t have the required permissions enabled.
Note: Anytime you enable camera or microphone access within a browser, we recommend that you close and reopen the browser to save those changes.
On a Mac
- Navigate to System Settings > Privacy & Security
- Choose Microphone and make sure the toggle to the right of Google Chrome is On
- Next, return to Privacy & Security and choose Camera to make sure the toggle to the right of Google Chrome is On
On a PC
- Navigate to Start > Settings > Privacy
- Click Camera and Microphone from the available options within App Permissions on the left panel
- Under Allow apps to access your (camera/microphone), turn the toggle On
- Under Allow desktop apps to access your (camera/microphone), turn the toggle On and check to see if Google Chrome is listed
- Open Chrome
- At the top right, click the three vertical dots, then choose Settings
- Click Privacy and security > Site settings
Click Camera and Microphone
- Make sure https://video.simplepractice.com is listed under Allowed to use your camera and Allowed to use your microphone
- If it's under Not allowed to use your camera or Not allowed to use your microphone, click the trashcan icon to the right
- Open Safari
- Go to Safari > Settings > Websites
For both the Camera and the Microphone:
- If video.simplepractice.com has Deny or Ask next to it, change it to Allow from the dropdown menu on the right
On a Mac
- Navigate to System Settings > Privacy & Security
- Choose Camera and Microphone from the list of available options and make sure the toggle to the right of Firefox is On, giving it access to your camera and microphone
On a PC
- Navigate to Start > Settings > Privacy
- Choose Camera and Microphone from the available options and select their permissions for Allow apps to access your (camera/microphone)
- Under Choose which apps can access your (camera/microphone), toggle Firefox On
- Click the three vertical dots
- Choose Settings > Privacy & Security
- Scroll down to the Permissions section
- Click Settings beside Camera and Microphone
- If https://video.simplepractice.com has Block next to it, change it to Allow from the dropdown menu
On a Mac
- Navigate to System Settings > Privacy & Security
- Choose Camera and Microphone from the list of available options and make sure the toggle to the right of Edge is On, allowing access to your camera and microphone
On a PC
- Edge automatically has access to your camera and microphone because it's the default browser for Windows devices
- Click on the padlock in the URL bar at the top of the browser and make sure Camera and Microphone are set to Allow
Starting a Telehealth appointment
To join a Telehealth call on a computer, you and your client can click the Telehealth appointment’s unique link.
For the clinician
- Create a new appointment and select Telehealth: Video Office as the Location
- When you're ready for the appointment, click the appointment on the Calendar
- Click Start video appointment to launch Telehealth in a new tab of your browser
- Enter your name
- Click Start video appointment
When an attendee joins or leaves a Telehealth appointment, a chime sound will play to notify you. There's no way to turn this feature off.
Note: If you’d like to change a non-Telehealth appointment to Telehealth, change the Location to Video Office and click Done in the appointment flyout. Clicking Done will save this change, so that the appointment is updated properly and the client receives the video appointment link via email. To learn more, see Adding and managing appointments.
For the client
As long as reminders are enabled in a client’s profile, they’ll receive an email and/or text reminder containing the Telehealth appointment link 10 minutes before the start time. The exact time the client receives the reminder may vary based on their cell phone carrier.
Note: To learn more, see How to set up appointment and time of scheduling reminders.
When the client clicks the Telehealth appointment link, it’ll open in a new tab in their web browser. They’ll need to enter their name before clicking Join video appointment.
The link to join the call is unique, so it can't be bookmarked and reused for each Telehealth appointment. The link expires 30 minutes after the end of the appointment. This means that clients can't rejoin a call using the same link after that time has elapsed. If your appointment goes past the 30-minute mark, you can continue to hold the call as long as neither party gets disconnected or leaves.
Note: If your appointment goes longer than 30 minutes after the appointment end time and your client gets disconnected from the call, you can extend the duration of the Telehealth appointment on your calendar. This allows the client to rejoin the call using the same link.
Testing call quality
Before clicking Join Video Appointment, you can check the call quality of your connection. To do this:
- Click Test call quality
- On the flyout menu, click Get started
- Follow each step to receive a report about your connection and call quality
- Click the X in the top right corner at any time to exit
Manually sharing a Telehealth appointment link
To manually share or resend the Telehealth appointment link to the client:
- Navigate to your Calendar
- Select the appointment
- Click Share Link > Send reminder
If the client has a contact with an email address and has given consent to email reminders, you'll have the option to send a reminder to their contact as well
If you don't want to send a reminder to the client's contact(s), you can disable email appointment reminders. To do this:
- Navigate to the client Overview page > Edit
- Click Contacts
- Select the Manage drop-down > Edit Appointment Reminders
- Uncheck the appointment reminders you would like to stop sending
- Click Save
- If you don't want to send a reminder to the client's contact(s), you can disable email appointment reminders. To do this:
If the client is having issues receiving the email with the link, you can also click Copy link to copy the link and manually send it to them by pasting it into a separate email or Secure Message.
Note: If the client's file does not indicate consent to email, you'll see the following notification, and you'll be able to click the Add email consent link to update their settings.
Manually sharing the link on mobile
Note: See Getting started with the SimplePractice mobile app to learn more about using the SimplePractice mobile app.
To manually share a Telehealth link on mobile:
- Navigate to the Calendar
- Select the appointment
- Tap the link icon
- Choose Copy link if you want to copy the Telehealth link and share it with the client manually
Select Send reminder if you want to automatically send the client an email reminder with the Telehealth link
- If your client doesn't have email consent, you’ll need to go to indicate consent to email on a web browser
Using Telehealth for multiple clients at the same time
Up to two clients can join the same Telehealth video call. Each client can join the video call through the link provided in either the email or text appointment reminder.
When Telehealth is launched on the web version or mobile app, each participant will need to enter their name. After entering their name, they'll be able to click Join Video Call and begin the appointment.
On the web version, you'll see the your client on the center of the screen, and yourself in the upper right corner:
On the mobile app, you'll see the client on the center of the screen, and yourself on the bottom right corner:
To schedule a Telehealth appointment for two clients, you can create a couples appointment on the Calendar. If both clients have email reminders enabled, they’ll each receive a link to join the call through their appointment reminder sent about 10 minutes prior to the start of the Telehealth appointment.
If your clients don’t have email reminders enabled, you can also choose to manually send the video appointment link to each member of the couple by copying it from the appointment on the calendar. To do this:
- Navigate to your Calendar
- Select the appointment
- Click Share Link > Copy link
- Paste the link into a separate email or Secure Message to manually send it to them
Note: To learn more about creating couple profiles and scheduling couple appointments, see Enhanced Client Management for couples.
Using Telehealth on a mobile device
Note: While you can hold Telehealth calls using mobile data, we recommend using WiFi instead since it provides a more reliable connection. The quality of Telehealth calls on mobile data can fluctuate highly depending on your geographical location. We estimate that the data used on a Telehealth session will be between 2-20 MB/minute, though this can vary depending on your reception and internet speeds.
You and your clients have the option to download the Telehealth by SimplePractice mobile app to join the video call from a smartphone or tablet. You can download it here:
To join a Telehealth call:
Open the SimplePractice Mobile App
- This is different from the Telehealth by SimplePractice mobile app, which is downloaded separately
From the Calendar tab, select Schedule
- Tap the appointment
Click Start video appointment
Important: If you haven’t yet downloaded the Telehealth by SimplePractice app, you’ll instead be prompted to download it first. After downloading the Telehealth app and opening it for the first time, you may return to the SimplePractice Mobile App to continue starting the appointment.
The Telehealth by SimplePractice app will launch, and the Telehealth call for that appointment will automatically begin
- The first time you use the Telehealth app, you'll see a welcome screen that’ll give you some tips on how to best optimize your Telehealth experience
- Swipe or tap Next to go through the tips
If you'd like to skip these tips and go straight to your Telehealth appointment, click Skip
- You'll be taken to a preview mode where you can preview your camera, turn your camera on or off, mute or unmute yourself, and view your connection status
Enter your name, and click Join Appointment Now
- If you try to join the appointment without your name entered, you'll get an error message
You can enter your appointment via landscape mode by flipping your device if you'd prefer
- Once you've entered your call, you can access your call settings by clicking the three dots on the top right of your call screen
- In these settings, you can view the number of participants in your call, flip your camera, hide self view, and view your speaker settings
Note: Telehealth appointments can also be started directly from the Telehealth by SimplePractice app. For this, you can copy the link for the appointment from either the web version of SimplePractice or the SimplePractice Mobile App, and paste it into the Telehealth by SimplePractice app.
Getting your clients ready for Telehealth
Clients may have questions about Telehealth appointments. Here are some common questions clients might ask, along with recommended responses:
|Client questions||Recommended responses|
|What is Telehealth?||“Telehealth allows us to meet through audio and video over the internet.”|
|How does Telehealth work?||"You’ll be sent a link for the video appointment. Click on it when our appointment is scheduled to start or open it through the Telehealth by SimplePractice app (which you can download for free in the app store). You can use the camera and audio on your computer or mobile device.”|
|How much will it cost?||"Your cost for a video appointment will vary depending on the coverage you have with your insurance provider. Most insurances charge a copayment just like traditional appointments, and it most likely will be the same amount. We can determine your exact coverage and what your copay will be before we schedule an appointment.”|
Tip: You can send your clients the client-facing guide to Getting started with Telehealth for more answers to commonly asked questions.
Additional tips for success include:
- Joining the video appointment 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time so you can make sure that everything is set up correctly.
- Restarting your computer every day for it to run as efficiently as possible.
- Closing any unnecessary programs and applications on your computer before joining a Telehealth call. These take away from resources needed for your computer to run efficiently.
- Keeping your software and operating system up to date. Install recommended updates only from sources you trust.
- You may need to adjust the volume or mute/unmute your speakers to prepare for the call. We also recommend keeping a pair of headphones nearby in case you need to use them for improved audio/voice.
- Clients might need to cancel or have questions about the appointment before the start time, so make sure you are actively checking your email and phone.
- When your video camera is turned on, there’s more strain on your internet connection which can impact the audio quality during a Telehealth call. If your audio becomes choppy, your connection or your client's may not be strong enough to support a live video stream. Turning off your camera, or asking your client to turn off theirs, may help to improve the audio quality of the call.