Claydata launches browser-based telehealth for aged care

Sydney-based eHealth systems vendor Claydata is ramping up its telehealth offering to both the aged care and specialist healthcare sectors, developing a new browser-based teleconferencing system that predates the WebRTC standard currently in development by Google and Mozilla.

Claydata markets the Putty range of solutions, which includes a full EHR package, a communications package for cross-platform communications and secure messaging, a front-desk package for administrative and financial transactions, and a document management package.

Underlying these packages are a range of applications and platforms, including the PuttyConnect platform for telemedicine, alerts, messages, VoIP, chat, file transfer and video conferencing.

Claydata founder and inventor Joseph Grace said the technology underlying the PuttyConnect system had been developed over some years, and was based on the same concept as the WebRTC movement, in which teleconferencing is done through any web browser rather than as a download like Skype, Vidyo or GoToMeeting.

PuttyConnect has been available to primary and specialist healthcare providers for some time, but Claydata is also targeting the aged care sector, not just for medical teleconferencing purposes but for basic communications between aged care residents and their families.

Dr Grace said he believed the maturity of his technology is about six to 12 months ahead of competitors in the WebRTC arena, with the point of difference being its integration with a range of other solutions Claydata can offer, including its PuttyBiz virtual shopfronts for medical practices, a secure EMR and the PuttyMe smartcard system for patients.

“We see the main problem in telehealth as the ubiquity or the ease of access to the service,” Dr Grace said. “There are plenty of specialist video conferencing and teleconferencing organisations that provide these requirements, but to go from two unrelated parties, if you have not pre-set up your software and your user access privileges, the connection is not possible.”

This is where web-based teleconferencing comes in, he said. Using a real-life example, if a mother has a child with a fever and she wants to speak to a medical practitioner to see if she should take the child to hospital or not, she can use one of the many telephone hotlines.

“With the telephone it's easy – you pick it up and you connect two unrelated parties,” Dr Grace said. “We currently do not have anything near that in the teleconferencing industry let alone the medical industry.

“The real breakthrough relates to a recent technical breakthrough in the humble web browser. Using everyday web tools like Google or Firefox, and with no particular add-ons or computer hardware, you can now set up a virtual shopfront and with the magic of PuttyHealth, you can have a simple invitation to engage in a teleconference that is a click of a button away.”

Dr Grace said that while browser-based teleconferencing is a technological breakthrough, there is a drawback, particularly for medical practitioners, in identifying who the unrelated party is. Using the PuttyHealth system, the patient can be easily identified through demographic details but also through its billing system.

“The Putty brand is a medical device; it is a trusted brand that is certified,” he said. “There is no way that a medical practitioner could purport to be a Putty provider unless they do it illegally. That at least gives the unrelated patient some security.

“But the provider also needs to be sure that he is speaking to Mrs Jones. It is a legal requirement, not to mention the billing risk. The individual on the other end is a registered PuttyMe user, which is a minimum obligation on the part of the person requesting the service, but the other thing I can get from the patient is their billing information. We deal with that using the PuttyMe identification system.”

Regular patients will often have an electronic health record on which the practitioner can then include the consultation summary. While that information can be shared, in the Putty system only one practitioner is assigned management rights.

“That contrasts with most of the other eHealth summaries that are available, but we think it eliminates what is the most important challenge with an eHealth summary and that is, how can I trust the information, how can I be sure it is up to date, how can I be sure there aren't omissions or duplications?” Dr Grace said.

When the patient is registered or logged in, he or she is automatically put into a queue on the website for the particular medical facility, which acts as a shopfront for the whole practice, he said.

“The medical practitioner or clinician at their desktop is notified that there is a teleconsult waiting, and they then have the privilege of knowing whether there is an eHealth summary associated with them or not. They can choose to take the consultation or not. If the eHealth summary is there they can interrogate it before the consultation.

“The clinician now is doing the consultation and has the eHealth record file open in the same screen – same application, same PC, same connection, same process. It is simple, and that is the power.”

While private medical practices are an obvious target for the Putty system, the company is looking very closely at aged care. Claydata has signed implementation agreements with two large aged care providers, the names of which will be made public shortly, but rather than targeting medical consultations with the PuttyConnect system, the service will be offered to aged care providers for basic communication between a resident and their family.

“In aged care, it's not going to be a consultation that needs to be set up between a patient and provider, nor will be it be the specialist and the GP, because we already have that,” Dr Grace said.

“It will be between next of kin. I just want to get in and talk to my dad. He or she doesn't have Skype, which is not secure. As a PuttyMe user, they can log on to the aged care facility's website and say they'd like to speak to their dad. So there are all of the residents as well that we are linking up to their next of kin.

“We believe in teleconferencing rather than just telehealth – next of kin becomes the new patient and the resident is the provider. It is secure and documented and easily and quickly available.”

Like WebRTC, the Putty system is browser-agnostic, he said. “It is cross-platform – it doesn't matter what browser, whether it's a Mac or a PC or a tablet or iPad. It's simple for the providers as they are already on the system.”

Posted in Aged Care

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