We live in an era when online communication has become an integral part of the doctor-patient medical experience.
Even though doctors and patients have started using traditional communication channels like Skype, Whatsapp and others for medical follow-ups and consultations purposes, they need to know these tools don’t fulfill the needs of a high-quality online consultation.
Skype, Google Hangouts, Whatsapp struggle to address the essential needs of a proper online consultation – flexibility in the doctor’s schedule, convenience of viewing up-to-date medical data, secure exchange of data and more.
With telehealth, many doctors have found the next best alternative to in-person patients visits.Telehealth solutions help doctors deliver better and more comprehensive care, and achieve higher patient satisfaction and retention.
Read on to learn more about the main features that set telehealth platforms apart from the traditional communication channels, and how these features help doctors provide virtual care to patients in a meaningful way.
1. HD Video
Telehealth platforms do not lag behind the traditional communication channels in equipping doctors with high definition video and superior audio capabilities.
For instance, Healee offers an effective online consultation via secure, live HD video and audio calls with patients or their caregivers. Doctors can also request a short video from patients prior to the consultation – to better understand their symptoms.
Moreover, all video calls are encrypted and secure, allowing patients to share their personal information more comfortably.
HD videos improve the efficiency of medical consultations and help achieve better health outcomes.
For instance, a patient who connects with a dermatologist via Healee, can have their problem area checked with Healee’s robust HD video. This technical aspect, among others, gives patients the full experience of an in-person medical consultation.
2. Consultation Framework
Telehealth providers, like Healee, have tailored their platforms to mirror face-to-face consultations as closely as possible, so that the real consultation process is followed precisely.
A face-to-face consultation is composed of a few specific elements that help practitioners with delivering high-quality health care: there is a clearly defined start of the consultation, time for a reply, diagnosis, prescription if necessary, end of the consultation, follow up, etc.
Moreover, unlike Skype and other channels where each party in the conversation can choose to delete their message, Healee offers integrity of all the data, at all times. Every message that is exchanged between the doctor and the patient is kept saved, so that they can access the information at any time.
3. Flexibility in Scheduling and Planning
Telemedicine platforms offer doctors the advantage of setting their own schedules, send mass message campaigns, and notify patients about different upcoming changes. For instance, by sending a mass message, doctors can inform patients when they will be away or when certain immunization dates are coming up. This saves time and brings convenience to both doctors and patients.
4. Online Booking Service
Not only do we understand how important scheduling in advance is for doctors, but we also want to help them follow a good work/life balance. When using traditional communication channels, doctors are bombarded with multiple messages and calls at any time. Recognizing that this almost unconditional access that patients have to doctors is a problem, telehealth platforms have stepped in and started offering the freedom for patients to book appointments.
Healee’s online booking service, Superdoc, addresses this specific problem. More than 300,000 patients already use Superdoc, to access doctor calendars and book online consultations or in-person visits. With Haelee’s Superdoc, doctors have all patient appointments in one place, and can set and edit their own schedules, and see all upcoming appointments in a virtual waiting room. The service also sends notifications to patients and doctors if there are any delays in the schedule.
5. Tools for Data Exchange
Contrary to traditional communication channels, telehealth platforms equip doctors with advanced tools for data exchange. Patients can send all kinds of information, including lab results, medication regimens, static and dynamic medical images like MRI and CT scans. Patients can upload and doctors can visualise all data from within Healee, without having to leave the platform.
6. Post-Consultation Patient Monitoring
Telemedicine platforms offer rich patient monitoring capabilities like allowing clinicians to track patients data (vital signs, symptoms, medical data) by subscribing to their health profiles on the app, and formulate the best possible treatment plan for them. For instance, doctors can respond to diabetic patients who have reached high insulin levels by reaching them on time.
With Healee, doctors receive SMS message notifications wherever there is an emergency call from a patient, even if they are not connected to the Internet.
This feature not only reduces high admission rates in hospitals but also helps for better healthcare outcomes.
7. Comprehensive Billing Options
Telehealth turns the free expertise and advice doctors give while using the traditional communication channels into a paid activity. Telemecidine billing solutions have made monetization extremely easy. They take out the volumes of doctors’ work that go into processing payment schedules and insurance claims.
Healee, for instance, offers multiple patient billing options: out-of-pocket payments, insurance payments & co-pay models, concierge, or subscription plans.
In the subscription plan, doctors can create their own parameters – price, duration, number of consultations, and the option to get paid before or after the consultation.
If doctors believe that a case cannot be given a final diagnosis without a physical check they can decide not to charge the patient for the online consultation.
8. Data protection, Privacy and Security
Very few of the traditional communications channels are HIPPA compliant, and security is not guaranteed at all times. Some of them are not designed for telemedicine use and could potentially expose patient health information. We all know that there are hackers who target apps used by a high number of users.
The popular video conferencing app, Zoom, is one such example of an app that has been recently hacked. Zoom did not protect its users and half a million Zoom accounts have been hacked and the data from these accounts have been sold on the dark web, as Bleeping Computer reported earlier in April 2020 (1).
Moreover, Bloomberglaw reported last month that patients can sue doctors if they believe their data isn’t protected properly which has been the case with some traditional communication channels like Zoom Video Communication Inc.’s app, which do not follow the HIPPA Security Rule.
Unlike Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangouts, telemedicine platforms provide doctors and patients with security and encryption of all health data they exchange, at all times.
9. Personal АI Assistant
Many consultations require a detailed explanation of the case at hand, in order to proceed with the medical check-up and final diagnosis.
Healee offers AI-guided assistant that helps doctors by gathering details about the patient in advance (symptoms, medical cards details, etc) and hence reduces the time of the online consultation.
Prior to a consultation, the assistant holds a conversation with the patient, asks questions, and gathers details about the patient’s condition. The assistant then provides a summary of the conversation, which saves the doctor’s time, helps with clinical decision making and improves the accuracy and speed of diagnosis.
10. Group calls between medical professionals
Last but not least on the list of telemedicine-specific features, is the cooperation and exchange of expertise between practitioners. Telemedicine platforms help doctors stay on top of their game all the time by offering them group video and audio calls where they can hold multi-disciplinary meetings, discuss complex cases, and exchange knowledge and expertise.
This shared care for diagnosis and treatment can be extremely beneficial for both doctors and patients. Doctors wanting to provide optimal care to their patients, can now connect virtually and potentially result in fewer delays between treatments.
Judging by our every-day observations and the feedback we’re getting, it’s not an exaggeration to say that most doctors stop using the traditional communication channels the very minute they learn about the option to adopt a telehealth platform.
Тhis relatively easy switch comes on the back of the ten telehealth-specific features that we reviewed above.
To further facilitate thе switch, Healee is constantly adding more and more new features to thе list. The end objective is clear but compelling: help patients get treated faster, enable doctors to provide even better and more comprehensive care, while making sure that they still get to have the work/life balance they need.
1. Over 500, 000 Zoom Accounts Have Been Hacked and Sold On the Dark Web: Report (FirstPost), 15 April 2020, https://www.firstpost.com/tech/news-analysis/over-500000-zoom-accounts-have-been-hacked-and-sold-on-the-dark-web-report-8261581.html