Healthbank upgrades telehealth service, sets sights on expansion

Clinical software and telehealth developer Healthbank has released an upgrade to its Healthbank Consult telehealth service, and is now intent on expanding its market throughout Australia.

Healthbank, which markets an electronic health record to clinicians based on its parent company Medtel's WinChart peri-operative anaesthetic solution, established the Healthbank Consult telehealth service in its home state of South Australia in late 2011.

Healthbank Consult recently released an upgrade to the system, featuring improved processes to streamline the workflow for GP and specialist clinics and to assist practice nurses. Healthbank's business development manager, Gary Holzer, said that as a medical software company, Healthbank understands it is crucial that there is minimal impact on clinicians' work practices in adopting new technologies.

One improvement is the inclusion of 'tiles' to better manage a patient's timeline. Tiles have been developed to group a patient's medical information in a more logical and simple manner, Mr Holzer said. The timeline function allows clinicians to share referrals, reports and images during the video consults.

“Workflow is incredibly important in busy clinics, which can't afford to spend valuable time to get the technology working, and when they need help they need the assurance that this is always on hand,” he said.

Mr Holzer said the making the system more user friendly for nurses was deliberate. “What we have found in our experience is that it really is the practice nurse that needs to take the lead. The Medicare telehealth numbers only require that the GP is undertaking supervision, which allows the GP to see their regular patients during the video consult.

“The nurse really takes charge of it so ... we do everything we can to support the them because they are going to make or break telehealth.”

Healthbank Consult has a network of specialists using the system who are available for referrals, but the company is keen to broaden the network. “GPs don't want to talk to just anyone – they want to talk to their specialists as their patients already have an ongoing relationships with these doctors,” Mr Holzer said.

“They are not going to start talking to some other cardiologist in Adelaide just because they're on Healthbank Consult. This is one message that has come across loudly and clearly from the GPs.

“We have now grown to the stage in South Australia where we have a true telehealth network due to the number of GPs and specialists on our network. This critical mass is now resulting in the network growing itself.”

He said the company is planning to go interstate in the coming weeks, using businesses that already work with local GP practices and building on the same model that has worked in South Australia.

“We have proved that Healthbank Consult works in our own backyard – there was some heavy lifting in the early days to get the network going in South Australia – but you have to build the network to sell the service.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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