How to Choose a Telehealth Platform for Best-in-Class Virtual Care

A complete guide to evaluating whether to buy, build, or leverage a virtual care platform. Explore the advantages and disadvantages to each, and find out which platform can best serve your virtual care business.

If you aren’t already thinking about virtual care, your competitors are — you’ll need to move fast if you want a slice of the market share. One of the most fundamental and critical decisions you’ll need to make early on is what virtual care platform to use as the foundation of your service.

Here, we’ve combined our collective learnings from working behind the scenes to launch virtual care for some of the biggest names within and outside of healthcare. We’re outlining the most common options and sharing our best practice strategies for selecting a platform — ensuring your technology meets your organizational needs AND your customers’ expectations.

Next-generation telehealth platforms

There are five standards that every virtual care platform should adhere to in order to deliver an exceptional — and compliant — patient experience. Consider these cornerstones when you are evaluating technology solutions for your patients and your business.


A virtual care platform should:

  1. Ensure security and privacy are never in question

  2. Utilize proven frameworks for clinical protocols based on the new standards in virtual care

  3. Engage consumers with a great experience, measured by both clinical outcomes AND patient delight

  4. Be designed for scalability and future virtual care applications

  5. Intelligently access clinician supply based on fluctuations in patient demand


Additional critical success factors for next generation virtual care platforms:

  • Delivery of both asynchronous and synchronous consults

  • Support for new modalities of care, such as remote patient monitoring

  • A built-in EHR as well as interoperability with other medical systems

  • Integrated ePrescribing and lab ordering

  • Lab requisition and review functionality

  • Flexible payment methods

  • HIPAA-compliant privacy and security standards


It’s critical to keep these tenets in mind as you evaluate your options for implementing a virtual care solution.

Virtual care technology options

There are three options available to every company entering the virtual care space.

  1. Build: Your own virtual care platform from the ground up

  2. Buy: An existing virtual care platform off the shelf

  3. Leverage: A comprehensive yet modular virtual care platform


What makes the most sense for your brand and organization?

Which platform will enable speed to market while delivering on the five standards and critical success factors for best-in-class virtual care platforms?


These three options are top of mind for every executive leading a virtual care program, and it’s the question that most grapple with. Let’s dive into these three choices so you can make the most informed decision for your organization.

Building your own telehealth platform

Building a virtual care platform from scratch allows you unparalleled customization for a completely unique virtual care experience. However, there are significant cost and resource considerations that come along with deciding to do it all in-house.

Advantages

  • Complete customization

  • Total control over the patient/clinician experience

  • Proprietary technology

Disadvantages

  • Significant expense to build and operate — requires a deep bench of engineers, product managers, UX designers, and more

  • Slow speed to market

  • Ongoing maintenance over time

  • Necessary to hire, credential, and manage a state-by-state clinical workforce

  • Additional time and expertise required to build in workforce management functionality that supports clinical network load-balancing as demand fluctuates state-to-state

  • Need for expertise in virtual care regulations, product requirements, clinical protocol development, and quality assurance processes

Who it’s for

Companies that are delivering virtual care through a new business model or that plan to sell their technology product later on.

Making the decision

You’ll want to balance customization needs with the cost, manpower, and time required to get a platform off the ground. Without an unlimited budget and the luxury of a long runway to launch, the do-it-yourself option is not feasible for most organizations — though it can provide the highest level of control.

Bottom line

Plugging in to a pre-existing technology solution and a proven infrastructure may be the best option for companies that are under pressure to get to market quickly.

Buying an existing virtual care platform

There are dozens of “off-the-shelf” virtual care platform options available if building one yourself isn’t viable. Many of these solutions are vetted, having been used by early telemedicine companies prior to the post-pandemic telehealth explosion.

However, status quo virtual care platforms do come with limitations, as they are mostly based on outdated technologies and care delivery standards.

Advantages

  • Numerous vendor options with varying levels of customization

  • Vetted solutions used by well-known companies

  • Specific applications for a singular use case or modality

Disadvantages

  • No single solution inclusive of a clinical network, workforce management, and clinical/compliance solutions

  • Engineered for either synchronous or asynchronous care modalities, but rarely both

  • Often designed for private practice or health systems, may require separate EHR/EMR connectivity

  • Prohibitive cost models and outdated pricing structures

  • Inflexible configurability

  • Can have dated, frustrating user experiences

  • Require clinical workforce management

  • Can’t efficiently support demand fluctuations

Who it’s for

Singularly-focused telehealth business models that do not require multiple modalities, care delivery solutions, and/or treatment areas. Also for companies that are aligned to only supporting a portion of U.S. states based on modality regulations.

Making the decision

Virtual care platforms are prolific, and it’s easy to find a pre-built solution that a familiar company has used. However, existing telehealth platforms were built prior to advancements in virtual care, and were designed exclusively for enterprise businesses, health systems, and private practices.

To deliver a complete care experience, you may need to engage multiple vendors, allowing you to patchwork a custom solution without a self-build. Keep in mind, however, that this approach would require multiple integrations, engineering resources, and additional time.

It’s important to also weigh vendor costs, as traditional telehealth platforms are often based on “per-clinician-seat” pricing models that make nationwide scaling cost prohibitive — increasing the cost to your patients or decreasing your margins and profitability.

Bottom line

Unfortunately, many of today’s existing solutions aren’t worth the investment for modern virtual care companies eager to move fast, scale wide, and deliver unparalleled care — all while keeping a low overhead.

Leveraging an all-in-one, modular virtual care solution

Next generation virtual care platforms deliver a complete suite of all-in-one telehealth services. These solutions are on the leading edge of virtual care delivery and are considered new-to-market, but with flexibility and innovation at the core, are trusted by both established and emerging brands.

Critical features include the ability to deliver multi-modal care, a second-to- none white-labeled brand experience, rapid speed-to-market, and complete access to components that aren’t core to your business — such as a national clinical network.

Advantages:

  • Complete care delivery from a branded patient experience to clinical treatment to care planning

  • Modularity to incorporate clinician portal only, or also include the patient intake and experience

  • Nationwide, remote-and-ready clinical workforce for rapid geographic expansion

  • White-labeling for customized brand experiences

  • High-quality consumer user experience

  • Designed for both asynchronous and synchronous care

  • Well-designed clinical workflows with access to existing clinical protocol libraries

  • Workforce management functionality

  • Novel pricing models for greater cost-effectiveness

Disadvantages:

  • Not appropriate for single-state, localized geographies

  • Limited choice for vendors as this is a new model in the market

  • Not a proprietary technology for your business to own or sell

  • Not appropriate for established brands simply looking for surge coverage

  • Requires a minimum threshold of monthly patient visits for cost-effectiveness

Who it’s for

Established companies adding a virtual care service to extend their brand and meet consumer demands and emerging virtual care companies looking to rapidly launch and scale.

Making the decision

Selecting a virtual care platform requires a focus on the future state of your service. You may be launching in just a few states, but if you are planning to scale nationwide, you’ll need a solution that can scale with you.

Bottom line

If your brand of virtual care doesn’t map to a singular geography and is intended to provide a forward-looking approach to care, a complete virtual care platform is likely for you.

A white-labeled solution for virtual primary care

After exposure to hundreds of companies who told us what they needed and what was missing in the market, we designed an out-of-the-box virtual care platform that solves today’s virtual care needs, not yesterday’s.

Wheel’s solution is centered around the needs of companies like yours — innovative service delivery, a white-labeled brand experience, regulatory compliance, and high-quality clinical care from a 50-state network of clinicians integrated into the platform.

The result? Rapid, affordable, and high-quality virtual primary care deployment.

Interested in learning more? Explore the Wheel solution for virtual care >


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