Doctor2Go to launch using WebRTC for 'click and call' telehealth

Auckland-based Concierge Medical Services is set to launch its Doctor2Go telehealth service imminently, using WebRTC to provide browser-to-browser video conferencing capabilities.

The company, established by Waitemata PHO member practice Third Age Health, which provides contract GP services to aged care facilities, says the service will initially be available just in Auckland and is targeting two main patient groups: time-poor singles and families, and corporates.

Unlike other telehealth services that use Skype or proprietary video conferencing technology or require providers to be part of a district health board's network, Doctor2Go has based its service on WebRTC, which allows for secure video conferencing between browsers as well as the ability to share documents and photos in real time.

The company's GPs use the MyPractice patient management system (PMS) hosted in the cloud, and if the patient chooses Doctor2Go as their primary healthcare provider, their medical records can be transferred electronically through the GP2GP system developed by Patients First.

The service will allow GPs to talk a patient through test results and x-rays and annotate the images or documents in real time. The company is also testing a new feature that allows the doctor to take a snapshot during a video call and 'whiteboard' the snapshot so the doctor can point out information to the patient during the call.

It also plans to introduce ePrescription functionality that can send a script directly to a pharmacy.

While Australian company GP2U also uses both Skype and WebRTC to provide a very similar service, Third Age Health CEO Michael Haskell said Doctor2Go was created using the company's own technology platform because it wanted to ensure the security and privacy of patient data.

“Due to this necessity a solution like Skype was just not feasible,” Mr Haskell said. “We searched in both New Zealand and Australia for a viable alternative before building our own solution but could not find one that suited our purposes while simultaneously leaving us confident in the security of our patients' data.

“Our solution is fully hosted in New Zealand with all data being stored in our New Zealand data centre. Doctor2Go uses an encrypted method of communication to ensure the privacy of each call between doctor and patient and we’re currently developing a number of intuitive features to assist in the communication between doctor and patient.”

Patients will be able to contact a GP 24/7, and if the GP decides they need to be seen in person, can visit the patient at their home or office for a further fee.

The fee structure is going to be a major limiting factor in the uptake of the service. Patients will need to pay $99 per month for 24/7 access to a GP, with the price for families $249 a month, although there is no monthly fee for children under 15. Consultations will be offered in 15-minute blocks, with the company's software able to automatically calculate the fee for longer consultations.

There is also a range of packages for corporate users, ranging from $249 a month for up to three staff, $659 for up to 10 staff and a package for the whole company. It is offering a call-out service for a fee of $200 should the GP need to see the patient in person.

The company says the main conditions the service will be suitable for are cold and flu, common allergies, interpretation of lab results, nausea and diarrhoea, bladder issues, heartburn, eczema and back pain. For children, the company says it is suitable for fever, cold and flu, lice, strep throat, asthma and allergies, rash, insect bites and nosebleeds.

It is also suitable for travel medicine, the company says, and can be accessed when the patient is overseas. Patients will be able to 'click and call' a GP through an accompanying app.

The company hopes to join a PHO and qualify for capitation funding.

Posted in New Zealand eHealth

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