Here are the answers to several frequently asked questions about Telehealth by SimplePractice:
- How much does Telehealth cost?
- I currently use a free service. Why should I pay when there are free options?
- How do I turn Telehealth on or off?
- Can I do group sessions?
- Is SimplePractice HIPAA compliant?
- Are video sessions recorded and/or stored?
- What equipment do I need?
- What can I expect in terms of the sound & video quality?
- What if I'm having problems on the web version?
- What do I do if I'm having audio problems?
- Why am I hearing an echo?
- What about if I'm having connectivity problems?
- What browser versions are supported?
- What should I do if my client is appearing with a crossed-out speaker icon over their image in Telehealth?
- Will my clients have to install or download anything in order to join the session?
- If my client prefers to use a mobile device, is there an app they can get?
- Is there a limit on using this feature?
- Where can I get information on my state's Telehealth policies?
- Does insurance reimburse Telehealth appointments? If so, is there anything special I need to do? Is the amount less than an in-person session reimbursement?
- How does billing work?
- How does state licensure work?
- How does informed consent work for Telehealth?
- Do you have some examples of informed consent documents?
- What are the requirements/restrictions regarding providing Telehealth services to minors?
- What if I need to offer a session to a client sooner than a reminder email/text can go out to them?
- What other resources are available for Telehealth?
How much does Telehealth cost?
Telehealth costs $10/mo. per clinician ($120 annually) and is only available with the Professional plan. For one provider, the monthly subscription cost would be $59 ($49 + $10).
I currently use a free service. Why should I pay when there are free options?
The reasons we are confident that customers will pay an additional $10 for the SimplePractice Telehealth package when there are free options available is two-fold:
- First, rather than using a stand-alone provider to do video appointments, with SimplePractice, you get a fully integrated suite of tools. Having everything securely stored in one central “hub” enables practices to save time, make better decisions, and present a more professional image to your clients.
- Second, you get all the features you’d expect from the an award-winning, best-in-class practice management solution on the market, including: the only 100% paperless intake system, our Note & Form Builder for all your documentation needs, access to our comprehensive template library, secure messaging, custom appointment reminders (SMS, email, or voicemail) that are completely free, superbills, electronic claim filing, and a beautiful client portal for your customers pay bills, request appoints, update credit card information, etc.
Paying $59 a month to have access to all these great features, PLUS unlimited Telehealth appointments is still less than most of our competitors.
How do I turn Telehealth on or off?
FYI: Telehealth is only available to customers with the Professional Plan. To learn more and compare plans, check out our pricing page.
To turn on Telehealth:
1. Go to: My Account > Settings and under Administration click Subscription Information.
2. Press Enable in the Telehealth section:
Note: Enabling the Telehealth feature will create a new office location named Video Office. You can customize the name of this new location to reflect the unique needs of your practice. You do need to have a separate office location saved for this feature to work correctly.
Once enabled, you can create new Availability for your Video Office if you would like to allow Online Booking for Telehealth appointments and services.
Note: For detailed information about setting up your Availability, see this guide: Managing your Availability.
To turn Telehealth off:
1. Go to: My Account > Settings > Subscription Information.
2. Press Disable in the Telehealth section:
Can I do group sessions?
A Telehealth group session right now for us is anything more than a one-on-one appointment between a clinician and a client on a dedicated session link between two computers. Though we are looking to support group sessions (3 or more individuals each on a different device) in the future, we don't support this right now. However, when we speak of "support" in this case, we're referring to the integration and seamless usability of Telehealth group sessions into the rest of the SimplePractice platform. You can definitely hold Telehealth group sessions right now, but it does take a couple of manual steps to accomplish this.
For example, you could have a Telehealth group session with a couple. Because only one of the two individuals in the couple would be scheduled for the video session, receive the email with the session link, and receive the reminder for the appointment, you would want to make sure that the other individual could also access the link at the correct time. You can share this information manually. This means that if one of the two individuals wants to share the video link with the other, this is not a problem. The three of you could join the session each on separate computers.
Note: There are a couple of caveats if you would like to try out Telehealth group sessions in this manual way. This will only work on our web application, and not through mobile. Additionally, if you experience video/sound issues, we really can't troubleshoot them for you other then providing you with the precall tool that's currently available.
Is SimplePractice HIPAA compliant?
Yes, we meet or exceed all the requirements of HIPAA as a business associate, including the Business Associate Agreement (BAA) in which SimplePractice agrees to be responsible for keeping all client information private.
Additionally, SimplePractice has a partnership with the Telebehavioral Health Institute. The Telebehavioral Health Institute holds a high criteria with whom they partner, and we are proud of our relationship with the them: https://telehealth.org/
Are video sessions recorded and/or stored?
We do not record or store any video sessions. We designed our Telehealth solution to complement your workflow, not change it. Therefore, since most customers don’t record in-person sessions, there is no need to record video sessions.
What equipment do I need?
To provide Telehealth appointments, you will need the following:
- A computer (laptop or desktop).
- Newer devices (purchased in the last two years) will be better equipped to provide Telehealth appointments.
- It is strongly recommended that the device has a 2.5 GHz processor and 4 GB of RAM.
- Your computer needs to have an integrated or external microphone.
- Your computer also needs to have an integrated or external web camera.
- Or mobile device.
- We strongly recommend using at least iOS 10 or Android 6.0.
- A reliable internet connection. For optimal results, a reliable, high-speed internet connection with a bandwidth of at least 10 mbps will minimize connection issues and provide the best quality.
- On the web app, updated versions of Chrome or Firefox browsers are strongly recommended.
- We strongly recommend a minimum dedicated 350kb/s down per downloaded stream, as well as 350kb/s up per uploaded stream to maintain a stable video connection.
Note: If your device does not meet the minimum requirements, the quality of your Telehealth appointments will be impacted.
What can I expect in terms of the sound & video quality?
Connection problems can be caused by a variety of outside factors such as low quality or older equipment or an overloaded computer (e.g., too many programs running), but in general, poor video quality is attributable to a poor internet connection.
Here are some basic steps that can improve the overall quality:
- Use wired Ethernet instead of wifi whenever possible. Wifi will work, but you may experience a lag and interference, which can make your video and audio choppy. Moving closer to your router can help decrease the amount of lag or interference for Telehealth appointments. However, wired internet will give you a much smoother, more consistent experience.
- Test your internet connection speed. Google provides an easy way to test your internet connection directly from the google homepage. Simply search: internet speed test. Click the blue button that says Run Speed Test. If it is under 10mbps and you’re using wifi, try using a wired internet connection or restarting your router.
- Close other programs. If you have several programs running in the background, closing them will almost certainly improve the quality.
- Adjust your light. Some small lighting tweaks that can have a huge impact including placing a lamp or other light source behind your monitor, pointed toward you. Also, make sure you don’t have too much light behind you. If you’re on a laptop, make sure the camera is at eye level and not pointing up at the ceiling lights, or down at the floor.
What if I'm having problems on the web version?
You can solve many issues you experience on a laptop/desktop by following these troubleshooting steps:
- Confirm that you have a reliable Internet connection. We recommend this Pre-call Tool.
- Confirm that your laptop/desktop meets the hardware and software requirements. The Pre-call Tool mentioned above can also confirm this for you.
- Move closer to your router.
- Confirm that your speakers and volume control both work. You can use another app that plays sound to make sure these both work.
- Confirm that your computer can play video. We recommend trying to watch a video on Youtube.
- Confirm that you have granted permissions for the browser to use the camera and / or the microphone.
- Clear your browser cache.
- Reload the page.
- Restart the browser.
- Use another supported browser (Chrome or FireFox).
- Restart your computer.
Start troubleshooting for web-related problems at the step that seems most relevant for the problem you're currently experiencing.
Tip: For information about enabling camera and microphone access, please see: How to enable camera and microphone access for Telehealth.
What do I do if I'm having audio problems?
Follow these steps to verify your computer can capture and play audio:
- Be sure your volume is not muted. This is a common cause for not being able to hear audio.
- Check that your computer is using the correct audio device. Applications that use sound usually let you select a source.
- Try to use a headset or speakers to confirm your computer can play audio.
- Close any open media player (Spotify, Facebook, etc.).
- Applications and media players can get control of your speakers and not let go until closed.
- Your browser settings can get corrupted and prevent your audio from working properly.
- Clear your browser cache of cookies and reopen the site.
- Update your web browser to the latest version.
- If you’re using a dedicated sound card, be sure to update its drivers.
- Reboot your computer and try to play audio again.
Tip: For information about enabling camera and microphone access, please see: How to enable camera and microphone access for Telehealth.
Why am I hearing an echo?
- If you're using external speakers, place the speakers as far away as possible from the laptop mic, and lower the volume to a comfortable level.
- If you're using an external microphone, move the microphone about a foot away from the speakers. You can also reduce the microphone level to 50 percent or less, and reduce or turn off the microphone boost option.
- Some computers have an echo cancellation feature, but it could be require a high CPU load. Closing other programs on your computer can help enable that feature.
- Using a headset or headphones instead of speakers can stop the echo issue.
What about if I'm having connectivity problems?
Connectivity is important for high-quality video and audio sessions. Follow these steps to make sure that you have a sufficiently fast, robust connection:
- Confirm that you're connected to the fastest connection available.
- It’s easy to connect to a less performant network accidentally (move around the house/office).
- Disable/enable network connection
- Reboot, if necessary to restore connection
- If you can connect to the Internet, you can use our recommended Pre-call Tool.
What browser versions are supported?
- Telehealth by SimplePractice works on the latest versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Internet Explorer 11 on desktops/laptops.
- For Android, it can be run using Google Chrome for Android, Mozilla Firefox for Android, or with our Android app.
- iOS devices can use Safari or our iOS app.
For older browser versions, a dismissible warning banner is shown that requests users to update.
Note: We highly recommend ensuring you're using the most up-to-date browser version to have the best experience. Please be cautious when using this functionality on older browser versions and be aware that incompatibilities can cause unpredictable behavior.
What should I do if my client is appearing with a crossed-out speaker icon over their image in Telehealth?
If your client is appearing with a crossed-out speaker icon over their image in Telehealth and you're experiencing audio problems, this is most likely due to using Safari 11+. You should click the view of yourself in the bottom right portion of the screen to dismiss the icon and fix the sound.
Will my clients have to install or download anything in order to join the session?
Your clients will be able to easily & effortlessly join the session by simply clicking a link you provide.
They will not have to:
- download or install software or extensions
- enter a password or ID to access the session
- create an account or login into an account
We do offer a mobile app that clients have the option to download if they prefer to use a mobile device rather than a laptop or desktop for their session. They can find the app in the app store by searching for Telehealth by SimplePractice on their mobile device.
If my client prefers to use a mobile device, is there an app they can get?
Is there a limit on using this feature?
There's no need to worry about your session timing out or only being able to offer a certain number of Telehealth appointments per month. Telehealth by SimplePractice is truly unlimited for just $10/mo.
We offer something different from other Telehealth services: a fully integrated experience that makes billing, notes, appointment reminders, and client communication much simpler compared to maintaining an external, stand-alone Telehealth solution.
Note: Annual billing is also available for Telehealth at $120/year.
Where can I get information on my state's Telehealth policies?
The following organizations provide resources to help you learn more about your state’s specific policies and regulations:
- The Center for Connected Health Policy's (CCHP)
- American Telemedicine Association (ATA)’s State Policy Center
- The National Telehealth Policy Center’s state map
- State Medicaid Websites
Does insurance reimburse Telehealth appointments? If so, is there anything special I need to do? Is the amount less than an in-person session reimbursement?
Navigating Telehealth reimbursement can be very tricky. In order to find out more your specific state’s Telehealth rules, here are a few resources:
- The Center for Connected Health Policy's (CCHP) publishes an annual report that has up-to-date reimbursement policies for all fifty states and the District of Columbia. They also have an interactive map.
- American Telemedicine Association (ATA) also provides a map showing which states reimburse Telehealth services.
- Your local state board will have resources and information on how Telehealth reimbursement policies relate to your specific license type (LMFT, LPC, etc.).
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
- Medicare Telehealth Payment Eligibility Analyzer allows you to check if specific addresses are eligible for Medicare Telehealth reimbursement.
How does billing work?
When billing insurance, we recommend that you always check with the individual insurance payer to determine whether Telehealth services are covered and, if they are, which codes or modifier should be used for different types of services.
It is very important to check directly with the insurance payer because coverage for Telehealth change all the time.
How does state licensure work?
Clinicians must be licensed in each state in which he or she wants to provide Telehealth appointments.
How does informed consent work for Telehealth?
Certain states do not require consent, while some require verbal consent, and others require written consent that must be stored in the client’s record.
Here’s how to find out what your state requires:
- Go to The National Telehealth Policy Resource Center’s state map.
- Select your state and scroll down to the Consent section. Here you’ll be able to see whether state law requires you to get client consent.
Do you have some examples of informed consent documents?
Your account will include a default consent for Telehealth, but providers should review it very closely and update as needed.
Also, here are a few sample consent forms collected from various online sources. These are for informational purposes only, so it is your responsibility as the provider to update the content to meet your specific states’ requirements.
What are the requirements/restrictions regarding providing Telehealth services to minors?
The age at which a person may lawfully consent to care varies with the health condition at issue, the person’s state of residence, or the state where the patient is at the time of the Telehealth visit. Therefore, clinicians should be aware of the rules for the state in which the client is physically located for that visit.
For more information, see American Telemedicine Association Practice Guidelines for Telemental Health with Children and Adolescents.
What if I need to offer a session to a client sooner than a reminder email/text can go out to them?
In the event of a crisis or needing to offer a session sooner than a reminder can be sent out, you can copy the link from the Calendar. From the calendar, follow these steps:
- Schedule the appointment as usual
- Make sure that the location is Video Office
- Click Save
- Click the video camera icon that then appears on the appointment
- Press Share link to immediately send an email that includes the link to the client as long as they have email reminders enabled
Note: Reminders for Telehealth appointments go out based on the settings you have enabled for each client. They are available to send to clients 24, 36, 48, or 72 hours before the scheduled appointment. Based on those settings, the client will also get a 10-minute text reminder and/or a 10-minute email reminder as long as the appointment is set before the text/email reminder window. For a refresher on setting up these options, see: How to set up appointment reminders.
What other resources are available for Telehealth?
- For a video walkthrough, see our Getting Started with Telehealth video
- Best practices for getting started with Telehealth
- How do I offer Telehealth appointments?
- How to conduct a practice Telehealth session
- How to create your own custom Consent for Telehealth Consultation intake form
- Telehealth FAQs for clients
- Telehealth: Billing Insurance & Getting Paid
- Telehealth resources for your practice