As independent doctors struggle to survive amid the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine startup Hopdoc offers them a lifeline: its Telehealth platform for free. Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

Thousands of small and independent physician practices across the country are facing an unprecedented reduction in patient volume as Americans -- worried about the novel coronavirus COVID-19 – are eschewing in-office visits and turning to behemoth telemedicine companies that connect them remotely with a doctor they've never met.

In an effort to help these struggling physicians, Hopdoc, a Nashville-based telemed startup backed by renowned software developer DevDigital, is giving away a telemedicine platform to doctors for free. Beginning today, providers can immediately start using the service by simply signing up on Hopdoc's website.

"Several fellow family practice doctors have called to ask how they can implement telemedicine quickly because they're worried that the decrease in appointments will force them to lay off staff or even close their doors," says Dr. Ashok Mehta, Hopdoc co-founder and owner of SimplyCare family practice in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.

When Dr. Mehta adopted telemedicine for his practice six years ago, it represented a small percentage of his primary care business. Now he conducts hundreds of virtual visits a month. Offering his patients a convenient and cost-effective way to receive medical care with their trusted physician has not only resulted in better care for them, but it's also been a financial boom to his business, as well.

"Virtual care is most effective through an established patient-physician relationship," says Dr. Mehta. "We know our patients' background and medical history, whereas most current platforms match patients with an entirely new doctor with each visit. So, we developed Hopdoc as an answer to that. A simple way to empower doctors to keep treating patients who would prefer a virtual visit with their own doctor if they had the option."

Hopdoc's HIPAA-compliant telemed is accessible on any device with a browser: phone, tablet, or computer. The free, web-based platform is designed to offer simplicity and flexibility allowing practices in need to quickly integrate telemed into the daily office workflow.

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