COVID-19 resources: telehealth
Quick guides to telehealth
The University of Queensland's Centre for Online Health has released some quick guides to telehealth for practitioners and patients. For health professionals, there is a quick start to video conferencing with tips on optimising video and audio quality and how to set up a video conferencing space. There are also tips on purchasing peripherals like webcams, headsets and speakerphones for telehealth, and a comparison guide to three cloud-based video conferencing platforms: Coviu, Healthdirect Video Call and Zoom.
For patients, there is a guide to what telehealth is that explains the basics and how to find telehealth services, as well as what patients should do to prepare for a video consultation.
The director of the Centre for Online Health Anthony Smith and his colleagues have also published a paper in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare about using telehealth for global emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic.
The Australasian Telehealth Society (ATHS) and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) have released two guides to getting started with telehealth to help manage the COIVD-19 outbreak.
MBS items are now available to deliver services by video conference or telephone during the pandemic. The items, their fees and who is eligible is available on the MBS website and the items have been integrated into practice management systems and billing systems.
To help practices looking to use the new capability, the ATHS and ACRRM have provided a quick guide to getting started with telehealth, using video conferencing or the telephone. There is also a comprehensive guide that offers advice on managing appointments and conducting remote consultations.
ATHS suggests starting small and keeping it simple and to ask for help from organisations like ACRRM or the practitioner's own college, a National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Primary Health Networks or the ATHS itself.
NZ telehealth resources
The New Zealand Telehealth Resources Centre and Health Navigator NZ have released online information to help patients begin to use telehealth more to access health services.
Health Navigator has information and resources for both consumers and clinicians. These include a guide for consumers/whānau on what telehealth is, FAQs about why this change is happening, what patients can expect, the health conditions that suit telehealth, how to prepare for a telehealth appointment and more.
The site also has information for health providers about the changes and telehealth in general.
The NZ Telehealth Resources Centre has a large range of resources to advise clinicians on security, software, hardware, interoperability and how to implement a telehealth service.
Online directory and appointment booking platform 1st Group has launched an integrated telehealth option, partnering with Coviu. The solution has Medicare payment functionality and the company expects to have an option in the next few weeks for private billing and payments.
1st Group users can already take telehealth appointments using their current system, but the integration with Coviu will provide extra security and functionality including a virtual waiting room and the ability to share clinical documents, images and electronic prescriptions.
1st Group also has a new directory service called TelehealthClinics.com.au, which allows patients to search for telehealth providers, and covid19clinics.com.au, through which they can search for pop-up clinics and providers offering COVID-19 services. Both sites are powered by the company's MyHealth1st directory platform.
Coviu is offering a free one- to two-week trial as well as discounts for its telehealth platform. It has also partnered with groups such as the Australian Psychological Society, the Australian Association of Psychologists and the Australian Physiotherapy Association to provide discounts to healthcare providers who are currently feeling the pressure of having to reinvent the way they deliver care.
Coviu has integrations with practice management software providers including MediRecords, Halaxy, Cliniko, Nookal and AcuityScheduling. It is web-based, so clinics can simply add a link to their normal booking system to invite patients to a secure video visit.
Coviu also offers an online appointment booking feature which allows patients to book appointments from the practice website.
The system also supports virtual patient waiting rooms with music, pre-call and in-call credit card transactions, up to six participants in a call, document sharing, consent forms and custom entry and exit forms to help practices run a virtual clinic.
Coviu says it has gone from supporting about 400 consultations a day to over 10,000 as new businesses come online and has scaled up its infrastructure to accommodate more users and businesses.
Healthdirect Video Call
The Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast PHN has joined the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN in offering the Healthdirect Video Call service to local GPs for free.
Under Healthdirect's funding arrangement with the Australian government, there are a number of PHNs who have applied for and been granted access to the Healthdirect Video Call service. Those PHNs are able to offer use of the Video Call service to general practice and other health organisations within their networks for approved models of care.
Video Call, which is powered by Coviu, has a virtual waiting room environment for patients. A link is embedded in the practice website and patients simply have to click on the link.
Healthdirect has also created a COVID-19 Symptom Checker for consumers, which has been developed in consultation with the Department of Health on case definition. The tool includes questions about the patient's travel history, close contact and health symptoms and provides advice on whether users need to seek medical assistance. Since its launch, it has had 230,000 sessions.
Clinical and practice management software vendor Shexie has launched an integrated telehealth capability in its specialist Platinum practice management system.
The patient will receive an appointment confirmation message notifying them they will be seen by the doctor via a telehealth session, which they can confirm on their mobile phone. The practice can include all necessary information instructing the patient about what is expected both prior and during the telehealth consultation.
Patients will then be sent either an SMS message or email or both notifying them the doctor is waiting for them to join the meeting. The SMS message contains a secure link which the patient simply taps to invoke the meeting. The meeting is conducted via a web-browser if done on a computer or a free mobile app when done via a mobile device and does not require the patient to register details prior to joining the meeting.
When the doctor is ready for the consultation, the specialist will simply launch a telehealth consultation from within the patient's clinical record screen. The patient's notes, history, letters and images, script history and pathology results are displayed in a window alongside the video stream and doctor can update the record during the consult.
Allied health software vendor Cliniko has launched an integrated video conferencing feature that includes video chat, one-click entry to meetings and screen sharing.
Cliniko says practitioners will be able to create patient notes directly on the conferencing page during online appointments. Previous treatment notes and medical alerts will also be visible on the conference screen, and it can be used on desktop and mobile by practitioners and patients.
Cliniko says the new feature will be temporarily offered free of charge to current subscribers. The Cliniko platform is available for a free 30-day trial.
Medtech has launched a patient pre-screening form to its ManageMyHealth system to identify high-risk patients before they book an appointment. The ManageMyHealth patient and provider portal is an integrated telehealth solution that is used by more than 600,000 patients in New Zealand and Australia.
ManageMyHealth can be used by all practices regardless of the practice management system, so practices can continue to use their existing PMS and do telehealth consultations during the coronavirus outbreak. The system allows practices to provide telehealth consultations, share health records, offer online appointments, repeat prescriptions and perform remote health monitoring.
Pre-appointment screening can mean the practice will have to turn away patients for in-person consultation to limit the risk of coronavirus spreading. As a provider portal, it can also be used in the event that practitioners need to self-quarantine as it is web-based and can be used to perform telehealth consults from anywhere at any time.
Patients can use their smartphone or tablet to participate in the video consultation and they simply need to download the ManageMyHealth app. ManageMyHealth also offers an online appointment booking feature which allows patients to book appointments from the app or the practice website.
Global Health has added an announcement bar to its HotHealth patient engagement platform to enable users to add notifications about the COVID-19 pandemic to their website. The company is also offering the HotHealth platform for free until June 15 to all new and current users.
A Global Health spokesperson said the announcement bar will give HotHealth users a simple solution to communicate changes directly on their site. The announcement or notification bar allows a one or two-sentence announcement space at the very top of the homepage.
Users of GlobalHealth's PrimaryClinic practice management software can conduct remote video consultations and triage patients through HotHealth. It enables healthcare providers to digitally communicate with patients through video conferences, community engagement tools, online bookings and online forms, which can be used to further screen patients prior to consultations.
GPs and their patients can access the video conferencing function via their computer, tablet or the HotHealth phone app, and appointments are set up and scheduled the same as a face-to-face consultation, with an allocated time slot and an active link to join the consultation. Once all parties have joined the video conference, they can see and hear each other through the microphone and camera on their devices.
Melbourne firm CollabCare has opened its TeleConsult platform up to users in the general practice, allied health and mental health sectors to assist with the coronavirus outbreak. TeleConsult is the platform that underlies the TeleConnect video conferencing platform for Telstra Health's National Telehealth Connection Service (NTCS) and is also used in the acute care and aged care sectors on an enterprise level.
CollabCare has now moved its new version of TeleConsult from clinical trials into general release. It is powered by a WebStream video engine, which provides a bridge between popular consumer-grade WebRTC based peer-to-peer services such as Facebook Messenger, Google Meet/Hangouts and GoToMeeting and the more structured media control engines (MCU) associated with professional-grade video systems.
CollabCare also offers a virtualisation service targeting virtual wound care for surgical and chronic wounds, patient follow-up and remote management care planning via its CarePath service app, and dementia support via its MemoryShare app.
AutoMed Systems has a telehealth and phone solution that is fully integrated with MedicalDirector and Best Practice. It allows patients to book online or via an app and be placed directly into their doctor's waiting room.
The solution includes appointments, confirmations, reminders and recalls as well as payments on line for mixed billing practices. The GP has full access to patient notes at their desk or anywhere they have a laptop, with access to allergies, investigations and results. They can also write scripts or investigations.
Patients do not need to register with a third party. AutoMed charges the patient a $3 fee if the patient is privately billed, although if the patient is bulk-billed there is no charge to the patient. AutoMed is offering practices a free one-month trial.
Online appointment booking service HealthEngine has released new functionality to allow practices to do a phone or video conference through FaceTime, Skype or WhatsApp that supports both the COVID-19 telehealth MBS appointments and privately billed appointments.
The HealthEngine telehealth solution includes a new appointment type that practices can set up and offer now. Practices decide what type of consultations they will offer the patient and the price (for private billed); phone consultation and/or video consultation via FaceTime, Skype or WhatsApp are available.
Patients pre-screened for COVID-19 in the booking form and deemed at risk will be restricted to the new phone/video appointment type and won’t be able to book an in-person appointment via HealthEngine.
The MBS rebate solution is being offered to HealthEngine customers at no cost. HealthEngine will charge $5 per month and a 5% usage fee per telehealth appointment for privately billed appointments with prepayments handled by the secure payment platform Stripe.
HealthEngine also offers patients a free coronavirus risk assessment tool.
Clinical and practice management software vendor MedicalDirector has launched an integrated telehealth capability in its cloud-based Helix system, with similar functionality now available in MedicalDirector Clinical.
Patients will be sent a secure link prior to their appointment and the GP simply needs to launch a telehealth consultation from within the patient's record. The patient's notes and history are displayed in a window alongside the video stream and GPs can update the record during the consult.
The company is using a WebRTC system for the video conferencing, having chosen it for its flexibility and security and because it doesn't require the patient to download an app.
As part of the appointment creation, the practice can indicate if the appointment will be conducted using telehealth. Once this has been selected, a secure unique link is generated that the practice can send to the patient to use for the appointment as part of their normal SMS/email confirmation process.
At the appropriate time, the GP opens the patient record and launches the teleconsult. They are able access patient notes, past history, prescriptions and pathology within the patient record as usual.
Cloud-based medical and allied health practice software vendor Mediclinic has added icons to its diary and booking page to allow practitioners to call or video conference with patients using common consumer apps such as Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime and Viber.
It is also currently developing an in-built WebRTC-based capability that will automatically record all conversations to the patient file. The video itself will not be recorded.
Mediclinic is currently integrating with appointment booking systems HotDoc and HealthEngine, but it also has its own online booking system and a patient app that means practices don't require their own website.
When a telehealth appointment is made, an automated SMS is sent at a given time set by the doctor or clinic and a pop-up message appears on the doctor's screen to alert them of an upcoming event. When on the diary and booking page, the doctor will see an icon for the app connected to the patient and they just have to click on this icon to start the call to the patient.
Posted in Australian eHealth