Telehealth and Telemedicine are buzzwords that have been trending on every possible social media platform for a long time. Everyone is well aware of the advantages which a telemedicine initiative brings to a health system. According to a new research report Global Telemedicine Market Outlook 20221, the market for telemedicine (including hardware, software, and services) was valued at US$ 29.6 Billion in 2017 and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of approximately 19% during 2017-2022.
Hospital systems across the globe have been using different variants of telehealth solutions catering to specific use cases. Some examples are listed below:
- The classic tele-consult use case where a patient books an appointment with the physician and has a remote consultation using a video conferencing application;
- Tele-care solution where patients book a slot for a multi-participant webinar session with a clinician. This is a pre-scheduled virtual training session for a batch of patients undergoing similar treatment or care (common for post-op patients);
- A variant of the above one-to-many video conferencing solution to conduct training for new recruits;
- Instant/Scheduled virtual meetings between the patient, caregiver, and care team members via video conferencing application to plan and review patient treatment outcomes;
- Virtual Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meetings between various specialties of a health system to review patient cases and plan treatment. I came across this use case very recently in the UK.
It’s interesting to note here that although these are very different use cases, they are utilizing a similar set of technology components around video conferencing to serve different workflows. For example, the appointment booking component can be used to schedule one-to-one meetings, multi-participant meetings or enrollment to a pre-scheduled session. The telehealth and MDT meeting use cases require the ability to take clinical notes. However, the tele-consult use case additionally requires these clinical notes to be linked to the patient’s health record for insurance claim processing. There can be further extensions to these use cases which require additional capabilities such as session recording, screen sharing, annotation and inviting unregistered members to the session. All these features should work seamlessly on mobile and web.
Each of the above use cases serves a different business initiative, target different sets of users and pose unique challenges around solution adoption, change management, resource management, and software/hardware procurement. Due to multiple third-party solutions in the market catering to specific use cases, health systems often fall in the trap of procuring independent software applications specific to the business initiative within telemedicine or end up pursuing their software vendor to build those custom applications at high costs and long timelines.
The world of LEGO offers an inspiring solution. Imagine a digital health platform with a set of technology components similar to LEGO bricks, such as workflow engine, scheduling engine, audio/video collaboration tools, forms builder, payments gateway, etc., which can be integrated to create custom solutions. The platform approach can be extended to other use cases beyond telehealth, enabling a health system to rapidly deploy innovative health applications configured for unique workflows. It also helps avoid the complexities involved in the procurement of independent third-party applications. As an example, health systems can extend the platform capabilities beyond telehealth to serve use cases around remote patient care (such as chronic care management and elderly care) by integrating wearables and clinical devices and care management tools.
At MphRx, we solve for multiple clinical use cases around telemedicine using our digital health platform, Minerva. To know more, you can reach out directly to me or visit our website at www.mphrx.com.