Healthcare Providers and Patients Increasingly Turning to Telemedicine During Today’s Global Health Crisis
The coronavirus has continued to expand globally, with more people being diagnosed every day, and affecting day-to-day life for everyone around the world.
The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to remind all countries and communities that the spread of this virus can be significantly slowed or even reversed through the implementation of robust containment and control activities.
In an increasingly digital world, healthcare providers have already been looking to emerging technologies in digital health to augment their services and meet the changing needs of their patients. While the highly infectious nature of the coronavirus complicates in-person medical care, technology advancements available right now are helping to deliver healthcare services safely and more efficiently.
With communications technology built using APIs that align to strict healthcare privacy and data management guidelines, organizations in the healthcare sector are creating custom solutions that enable them to deliver a compliant and flexible patient care experience in real-time. One such technology is live video through telehealth services, where patients connect to their healthcare provider using real-time video chat.
The use of such virtual visits for healthcare providers including Vonage customers Doctolib, Doxy.me, InTouch Health and One Medical is soaring, as virtual visits safely treat patients and mitigate the spread of the virus at hospitals, clinics and medical offices. It’s vital for healthcare providers to be able to deliver a continuous, effective service when the unexpected happens. And, adopting telehealth services means that those forced to self-isolate can access care from practitioners with thousands of miles between them, an important step to protecting other patients and healthcare professionals.
In Paris, Doctolib, a leading provider of consultation management software, has even made its telecommunications service available free of charge to all doctors in France, including its existing 3,500 subscribers, for the duration of the coronavirus epidemic. The organization has been able to strengthen its commitment to healthcare professionals against the spread of the virus by allowing all French doctors and patients to use its video consultation capabilities free of charge and fully funding the cost of equipment, training and management of the service.
Founded in 2013, Doctolib is the fastest growing and largest ehealth start-up in Europe, with 40 offices across France and Germany. The company is fully financing the installation, equipment and management of the service and could benefit more than 80,000 healthcare professionals. Each health professional has support of 350 €/year by the CNAM (French National Health Insurance Fund), to encourage more teleconsultations.
Sanche d’Abravanel, Patient Strategy Director at Doctolib, said, “In recent days we have received thousands of requests from doctors to start using video consultations and existing subscribers are increasing their use of our video capabilities in response to COVID-19. Since launching this service in January 2019, we’ve enabled more than 180,000 teleconsultations – a number that has increased rapidly with the recent rise in uptake, to around 100,000 every day. 30,000 doctors will be delivering teleconsultations in the coming days through self-onboarding, so we expect the number of teleconsultations to soar.
He continues, “Teleconsultations enable healthcare practitioners to treat patients at a distance, offering invaluable treatment and guidance while limiting the spread of coronavirus. Vonage’s API solutions are providing us with the technology we need for video, so we can be reassured that the system will continue to operate even if the load increases enormously.”
The open nature of Vonage’s APIs allows healthcare professionals, medical centers and telehealth companies to build these custom video applications to unlock the power of telehealth capabilities for customers, helping them to deliver virtual medical and health services in real-time and make deeper and more meaningful connections with their patients.
By taking advantage of this technology, organizations such as Doctolib are revolutionizing healthcare and such a widespread shift in the way care is delivered in the wake of the coronavirus is likely to have lasting effects. According to Gartner, "by 2023, 60% of healthcare consumers will have access to and control of their health data using a technology of their own choosing."*
Around 2.5 billion people already have a high quality video camera in their pocket and Wi-Fi is widespread. On the provider’s side, cloud communication APIs have made it both easy and affordable for developers everywhere to build video, voice, and text communication directly into their apps.
In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, Doxy.me, a cloud-based electronic medical records (EMR) and telemedicine solution, reported 139,000 new providers and 1.35 million patients using telemedicine in just a week. This amounted to 20.9 million minutes and an average of 168,999 calls per day.
Commenting on the future of telemedicine, Brandon Welch, founder of Doxy.me, said, "telehealth is playing a key role in keeping doctors and patients safe and healthy during this crisis, and we predict that when we’re on the other side of this, it will become an accepted front-line medical practice."
To succeed in the new healthcare economy, the patient experience must be front and center and no longer begin and end in the waiting room. So, for those of us fortunate enough to have easy access to healthcare, the next few years will see telemedicine become a convenient enhancement to the service we already receive.
Vonage has released several new free solutions for healthcare providers that don’t currently have the ability to operate in remote environments in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. Find out more about Vonage’s current free offers and how our technology can help you deliver care remotely.
*Predicts 2019: Healthcare Providers Must Embrace Digital Transformation, Laura Craft et al, 10 December 2018