Medtech Global brings on an evolution for time-poor GPs

Medtech Global has launched an evolution in its product suite with its new Medtech Evolution clinical and practice management software, which is aimed at putting GPs in control of their valuable time and enabling them to customise the system for their own workflows.

Medtech Evolution has been available to New Zealand users for almost a year but the Australian version is a slightly different technology with a different support base, Medtech Global chief technology officer Rama Kumble said.

Launched at GP15 in Melbourne this week (pictured), the first goal in developing the new software was to build a 64-bit database to align it with the move towards the now widespread use of 64-bit hardware. Mr Kumble said this meant the product will run a lot faster and more efficiently than its predecessor, Medtech32, and there is also a revamped user interface to make the system look as fresh and modern as possible.

But the main goal is to make it as efficient as possible to allow GPs to make the best of its clinical and practice management capabilities so it can free up GPs' valuable time, Mr Kumble said. The company is using the concept of a Time Lord to illustrate its intentions.

“Doctors are time poor; that's a given,” he said. “The pressure on GPs is ever-increasing and they are really under the pump in many ways. It's my opinion that their real income is eroding in terms of the value that they get out of their time.

“For us, the goal is to provide them with great clinical software so GPs can do their work reliably and quickly. The concept of the time lord reflects on how we can help GPs become the master of their own time.”

Medtech Evolution has been built with two emerging trends in mind: the concept of structured care, where GPs are able to follow pathways that ensure nothing is missed during a consultation; and the move towards larger practices and a more corporate environment, where uniformity of care is important but where freedom to run a practice as the GPs see fit is equally important.

To balance these competing demands, Medtech has developed new technology called Advanced Forms, which allows users to configure their own forms, screens and dashboards while still being powered by Medtech Evolution.

“If you go to a normal Windows application on all other practice management systems, what they do is they predetermine for you the menus and the workflows,” he said. “It's sort of like a straitjacket.

“We on the other hand allow you to design the forms and the screens in your own way. They have our technology driving them it in the back-end but you can make them look and feel as you'd like.

“No two practices do things the same way or do the same thing so consequently this will allow them to run the practice the way they want to do it, control their workflow the way they want it, and yet use the back-end functionality of Medtech Evolution.

“Like any other product we have lots of functions and menus, but if you put these Advanced Forms on top of it you can literally transform it into something that you want.”

The second major feature is a new series of configurable patient dashboards that aim to enhance opportunistic care, where in addition to treating the primary diagnosis the GP can also look the patient in a more holistic manner during the consultation.

Medtech Global has developed a set of configurable patient dashboards that provide an easy to read overview of the patient that the practice can customise for their own needs.

“Opportunistic care is where the patient presents themselves and you think what else can I do besides treat the acute condition that the patient has presented with. If I go in with a cough and cold, the doctor will want to deal with what might be an upper respiratory tract infection and that's pretty straightforward, but they should also look at my age, have they looked at my cholesterol, have they checked my care plan if I'm a diabetic – all of that can comes up in the consultation through the patient dashboard, enabling them to do their job efficiently.”

Mr Kumble said the patient dashboards also use the Advanced Forms technology so practices can design their own rather than someone else determining what dashboard they should be using.

“There are some that are a good baseline but now we are customising it based on the patient's condition. This is what we provide through these Advanced Forms. In that way, doctors can also be sure that when the patient presents they've done everything possible, and you can also do reminders and recalls that they need to come back.”

Mr Kumble and his team have also added new data analytics capabilities that are built-in to the system, both for clinical data and business data. There is a built-in query builder for clinical data so GPs can quickly look for all of their diabetic patients or all of those on warfarin, for example. With this capability, clinicians can gain insight into their own clinical practice, he said.

Practices are also small businesses and have to be profitable, so the company is planning to add easy to use business intelligence queries to the system and allow GPs to run their practices better and improve their processes.

The system is also integrated with some of Medtech's other technology such as the ManageMyHealth portal, which can be used both as a patient portal and a provider portal. ManageMyHealth has telehealth capability built into it to allow for GP and specialist teleconferencing, but it also functions as a patient-facing two-way communications portal.

While patient portals are taking off in New Zealand, where the government is actively encouraging them but where the funding model is also more supportive of the technology, patient portals are not yet in widespread use in Australia.

Mr Kumble said most of his customers using ManageMyHealth were using it for its online appointments booking capability.

“Some of our practices have trialled it and have started using it and some will start using it for sharing more useful information with patients,” he said.

“It's very useful for reminders, for instance, and this will only increase in uptake. In New Zealand the funding model is different but it will begin to grow in Australia because they will see the value that's in it.

“There is also the potential to use it for GP to specialist connections. There are lots of little business steps that happen when you want to refer to a specialist. They may not be able to see the patient for three or four months or the specialist may say they need to be referred to somebody else.

Things like that happen all the time but through a portal like ManageMyHealth, the specialist and the GP can quickly triage the patient before the specialist accepts them. We'll be working with other companies to make that capability more nationwide.”

The Australian GP market is slow to change but Mr Kumble said Medtech's technology was now able to help GPs embrace new directions such as telehealth and patient portals, especially if the funding models are improved.

“It is a very slow-moving market and it takes a long time for the market to embrace this sort of stuff,” he said. “In the US for example about 24 of the 50 states treat telehealth on par with face-to-face consultations. Those drivers will definitely influence Australia in the long run, and with the NBN roll-out and things like that, things will start to change and by then we will have a very mature technology.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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