Online solutions for appointments, monitoring and web consults

A new player has entered the competitive online appointment booking market in Brisbane-based NetHealth, which also plans to release solutions for vital signs monitoring and online video consultations later this year.

NetHealth is the brainchild of medical software engineer and developer Vidya Nallamad, who set the company up in 2013 having spotted what she said is a gap in the market for a complete solution aimed at medical and allied health practices.

Ms Nallamad said she wanted to offer a solution platform rather than just products, and all three in the pipeline will be able to work in tandem.

First off the rank is the Book An Appointment online booking service, which is currently integrated with Best Practice and PracSoft. Ms Nallamad said this was a customisable solution that has several points of difference.

“I don't believe in one size fits all, and this solution has what we think is some unique functionality,” she said.

“One is a system where we can tell the patient by email or SMS if the doctor is running late. It's up to the clinic how they want to set that but it can tell the patient if the doctor will be 15 minutes or 30 minutes late, so the patient isn't wasting their time.”

Book An Appointment also has functionality that can clearly differentiate between an existing patient and a new patient, she said. “If it’s a new patient, all their details are directly entered into the system, thus reducing the patient’s and receptionist's time in data entry.”

Next in the pipeline is a solution called HealthData that can collect the vital signs data from medical devices like the iHealth range of wireless blood pressure monitors and devices for blood glucose, weight, heart rate and oxygen levels.

“We have an API that can collect this data and send it as a secure message using HL7 to the doctor,” Ms Nallamad said. “There is a client and a doctor portal but we will build a plug-in adapter that will allow the data to be sent directly to the doctor's software.

“The patient can keep a track of the complete history of vital signs and this data is directly sent to their GP or specialist for tracking. This will give a tracking mechanism for both the patient and doctor to see the progress without having to actually visit the doctor each time to get these readings.”

The plan is to integrate this with Book An Appointment so the vital signs can be sent before an appointment and the doctor can check them before the patient turns up. The patient can also see their readings and how they change based on changes to diet or exercise, for example.

NetHealth plans to launch HealthData in the first quarter of this year, followed later in the year by WebAppoint, which will enable web-based video consultations for patients in aged care facilities or rural and remote areas for services like repeat prescriptions.

Ms Nallamad said it would be “Skype-like” but will integrate with the other solutions to provide a complete package. “This would tie up with the HealthData software to get the complete history of vital signs data.”

The cost of WebAppoint is still to be worked out as it needs to fit in with the bulk-billing process, she said, but the plan is to release a beta version in the third or fourth quarter of the year.

As a start-up NetHealth does not yet have a large client base but plans to build a number of other solutions to add to the platform.

“We want to offer a solution rather than just products to help in increasing the efficiency of medical centres and in providing better patient care,” she said.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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