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?
- Is SimplePractice HIPAA compliant?
- 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?
- What about if I'm having connectivity problems?
- What browser versions are supported?
- 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?
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?
FYI: Telehealth is only available to customers with the Professional Plan. To learn more and compare plans, check out our pricing page.
Here's how to enable Telehealth:
- Go to My Account > Settings > Billing Information.
- Click the link to enable Telehealth. 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.
- Once enabled, you can now 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.
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 and to immediately report any breach of personal health information.
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.
- An integrated or external microphone.
- An integrated or external web camera.
- An internet connection that is at least 10mbps. 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.
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. 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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?
Yes! We offer secure, HIPAA compliant Android and iOS apps.
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/month.
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 Copy link
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. If the appointment is scheduled after the reminder window has past, the reminder will not be sent. For a refresher on setting up these options, see: How to set up appointment reminders.