How to Choose the Best Telehealth Solution: Comparing and Contrasting Popular Video Conferencing Apps for Telehealth

One thing about 2020 is certain: telehealth is here to stay. Its use is growing exponentially, regardless of patient age, location and language. Your clinic or healthcare practice needs to choose a telehealth platform that is more than just video conferencing. Otherwise, you’ll waste time double entering data, you’ll lose patient and provider trust due to security breaches, and you’ll miss out on opportunities to create a custom, welcoming digital front door for your patients. 

Making the wrong choice about your telehealth solution can cripple your clinic with unforeseen costs, and technical support headaches. We rounded up some of the most popular virtual care solutions to help you choose what will fit your needs best.

Because telehealth and virtual care are so different from video conference calls, it’s important to know what kind of expectations you should have for a robust telehealth platform. (Not sure if your clinic is ready to move to a telehealth platform? Here are the top ten signs your clinic has outgrown your virtual care solution.)

When you’re looking for the best telehealth platform, consider the following:

  • How many providers you have and where they are
  • How many locations you need to link together
  • Which EHR you use
  • Whether your EHR charges an extra licensing fee to integrate
  • Whether you need interpreting services 
  • Your patients’ technical literacy, access to high speed internet, and willingness to download and/or learn a new app
  • How long your patients are willing to wait to be connected to a provider. 30 seconds? Or will they wait on. hold for 30+ minutes?
  • What level of risk you’re willing to take when it comes to security and HIPAA compliance
  • If you would like to customize workflows
  • The time it takes to deploy your solution
  • Your budget and acceptable ROI

Additionally, think about your patients’ experience with your telehealth solution. Does your video visit enable pre, during and post visit continuum of care that rivals in person visits? Can you include an RN, physician, interpreters and family members and other specialists in same visit with a single click? Will your virtual care solution save you time or create more work?

Popular video conferencing solutions used for telehealth

Apple FaceTime

Apple developed FaceTime in 2010. It now comes standard on iPhones, iPads, and other Mac OS computers, which are popular worldwide. Many people are comfortable with the FaceTime interface because they use it to interact with their friends, families, and co-workers. Smaller health clinics began to incorporate FaceTime into their practices when communities were on lockdown and patients couldn’t make in-person appointments. 

But FaceTime is only available on Apple devices. People with Android and other phones aren’t able to use FaceTime. It also has security flaws—which can pose serious problems for healthcare users and others who need to be sure their data and video calls remain private. In fact, Apple had to shut down the FaceTime servers for a week to create a patch that allowed others to listen in on group FaceTime calls.


  • Popular app people are comfortable using for personal reasons
  • Works on iPhone, iPad, and other Mac OS computers
  • Can include an audio only option for slow connections
  • Free


  • iCloud is not a HIPAA compliant service and shouldn’t be used to save or transmit PHI
  • Only works on Apple devices
  • Security flaws; not end-to-end encrypted
  • Not built for healthcare
  • Can’t add another person to a group call once a call has begun
  • Not an automatic or easily integrated solution
  • EHRs charge additional fee for integration through other partners and apps


Zoom connects employees, families, students, and teachers around the world. Like with Facetime, many people are familiar with how Zoom works and comfortable setting up Zoom calls. It has helped people stay in touch when they were otherwise isolated. Basic Zoom users can download and use Zoom to create and join meetings. In 2017, Zoom developed Zoom for Healthcare and began to offer integration with Epic, private waiting rooms, and HIPAA compliance. 

However, Zoom earned a reputation for security breaches as meetings worldwide were taken over by Zoom Bombers. At its core, Zoom remains a video conferencing tool, not a complete telehealth platform. Additional steps and apps are required in order to integrate with other healthcare apps, point-of-care peripherals, and workflows.


  • Popular app people are comfortable using for work, school, and personal reasons
  • Works on desktop, mobile, and conference room systems
  • Epic integration is possible
  • Free version (not HIPAA compliant)


  • Requires app download
  • Sends patients to a waiting room
  • Healthcare version is expensive
  • Doesn’t include built-in consent for telemedicine
  • Doesn’t include in-call click-to-connect for external parties to securely join a video call
  • Doesn’t offer interpretation, patient management, or warm handoffs
  • Doesn’t include integration into billing/practice management
  • Doesn’t include detailed reporting after each call
  • Doesn’t include dynamic workflow management

Cisco Webex

Cisco has been a big name in corporate video conference calling for years. It offers integration with tools that office workers use regularly — like GoogleDrive, Office365, and SalesForce. It also makes screensharing and conference calls easy. Recently, Webex delved into the Healtchare industry, offering encrypted video calls, virtual consultations, virtual training, and secure video calls. Webex promotes connecting clinical staff, care teams, and patients through their virtual rooms. 

Like Zoom, Webex is still a video conferencing solution that requires several different tools to be stitched together to create a telehealth solution.


  • Enables remote collaboration between physicians in other offices
  • Offers event management and webinars
  • Provides video conferencing for virtual consultations
  • Includes phone system on the cloud so staff can use their own devices 
  • End-to-end security
  • Free version, with limitations for a single user


  • Expensive monthly or annual cost, per provider
  • Not built for healthcare
  • Requires multiple apps, tools, and solutions to create a full telehealth experience
  • Doesn’t include in-call click-to-connect for external parties to securely join a video call
  • Doesn’t offer interpretation, patient management, or warm handoffs
  • Doesn’t include integration into billing/practice management
  • Doesn’t include detailed reporting after each call
  • Doesn’t include dynamic workflow management

Bluestream Health

Bluestream Health is a platform designed specifically to be the most secure telehealth solution possible. Bluestream makes it possible for physicians, interpreters, outside providers, and patients to connect without needing to download any additional apps. Physicians and patients alike appreciate the one-click access to a secure video consult. Health systems and clinics use Bluestream to create flexible workflows, to integrate directly with their EHRs, and to give patients the best continuum of care with the shortest wait.


  • Provider can initiate a virtual visit when they are ready, so patient does not need to remain “on hold” in a virtual waiting room
  • Integrated single click access to interpreters and 200+ languages
  • Web based telehealth solution requiring no downloads or sign-ins
  • Access video visits with single link via text or email
  • Single-click access to specialists, family member. colleagues, and interpreters over video visit
  • Cross facility and physician detailed reporting
  • Automated patient and provider queue management
  • Workflows that map to your practice
  • Seamless EHR integration at no-cost
  • Cost effective — even a free version 
  • Rapid Deployment in two weeks or less
  • Partners with Redox to provide context aware linking from any EMR, including EPIC
  • Patient info can be shared between systems
  • SSO – Single Sign on log in


  • Free HIPAA-compliant Rapid Response is best for clinics with 10 providers or less
  • Rapid Response can go live in a matter of days, but a fully integrated option takes about 6 weeks from start to finish

Curious how much time, money, and hassle your practice could save with a real virtual care platform that is more than just video conferencing? Set up a demo with us today, or give the Bluestream Health RapidResponse option a try. 

FacetimeZoomWebex / CiscoBSH
No App DownloadNoNoSometimesYes
Web Based VideoNoNoYes, but with bugsYes
Launch virtual visit from EMRNoWith limitsWith limitsYes
Single Sign On Log InNoHealthcare plan onlyUnknownYes
Integrates with EpicNoYesYesYes
Integrates with any HERNoNoNoYes
General public is familiar with useYesYesNoYes
White labeled for health systemNo – requires more integrationNoNoYes
Works with any platformNo – iPhone and iPad onlyyesyesYes
End to End SecurityNoNoNoYes
HIPAA CompliantNoHealthcare plan onlyYesYes
Cloud-based video, audio, and content sharingNoYesYesYes
Context aware linksNoHealthcare plan onlyUnknownYes
Patient waiting roomsNoyesyesYes

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