Need your doctor fast? Now there's an app for that

Sunday Observer staff reporter

Sunday, August 13, 2017

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A new mobile medicine app that is being promoted as the 'Facebook' of health, connecting doctors and patients in an effortless manner, is now available to Jamaicans.

Known as eDocine, the app is the brainchild of Vilakis Innovations, a Jamaican technology company that partnered with a team of The University of the West Indies and University of Technology, Jamaica graduates who are professionals in medical sciences, finance, law, management, and IT solutions.

Barbadian Arvind Gopwani, a director of eDocine, told the Jamaica Observer that the app, which is currently available on Google Play Store, was designed to dramatically improve the overall traditional health care experience of Jamaicans, after his business partner encountered a patient whose condition worsened as it was too costly to do a follow-up doctor visit.

“He had just seen a new patient in his regular 'walk-in' clinic, ending with thorough follow-up care instructions. A month later, the patient returned to see the doctor, having felt unwell. Unfortunately, his initial condition had worsened and the doctor was confused as to why the patient took so long to return. The patient explained that he lived an hour away from the office and that the wait time for a walk-in clinic meant that he would have to take the day off from work.

“In addition to that, he would have had to save for an entire month to offset the cost of the visit and make the relevant arrangements for travel. This troubled the doctor immensely, as these factors ended up reducing the quality of care he could provide to his patient. He then realised that there is a need for a more accessible, efficient and affordable solution. Hence the concept of eDocine was borne,” Gopwani explained, adding that the aim is to disrupt the current healt care experience where long wait times, variable pricing, and inefficient recording/communication of patient data are considered the norm.

Key features of the application for patients include integrated e-health services, qualified professionals with patient-regulated rating system, laboratory result preparation, interpretation and storage, prescription issuance, referral systems, multifaceted care, free medical advice from qualified professionals, and affordability.

“Integrated health services include video calls, audio calls, messaging consultations, scheduling house visits, and scheduling of office appointments from a selection of the best doctors in the region. We employ a highly regulated certification system. Each doctor's credentials are fact-checked and stored before they are allowed to see patients on the platform. Patients are able to rate their patient/doctor experience through the app, which then becomes the overall rating for the doctor for the benefit of future patients. Following a consultation, the doctor has the capability to liaise directly with the laboratories to prepare forms, as well as interpret and store patient information,” he said.

“Doctors will be able to issue prescriptions directly through the app by signing in real time on their mobile devices. We have partnered with more than 20 pharmacies across the island to enable easy and efficient filling of prescriptions, thereby significantly reducing overall wait times. Doctors have the ability to collaborate with each other in order to provide the best overall care to patients,” Gopwani said.

“Patient notes are stored in a remote cloud system for easy access and updating by doctors. Doctor profiles are filtered by speciality, location and immediate availability. Patients also have the ability to request house visits from within the app. Having this access to a host of doctors at the tip of your fingers can make all the difference in an urgent situation,” Gopwani added.

Further, he said patients can ask a doctor any general medical question in the main feed section, which is then posted in the “doctors only forum” where physicians can choose to respond.

While the patient's ID is kept confidential at all stages throughout this process, Gopwani said other patients can stay informed with current medical information, as the question and answer remains public to all viewers.

Additionally, he said the cost per session is expected to be up to 50 per cent lower than traditional first-time consultation fees, and pointed out that the team will be engaging leading insurance providers to offer the use of health cards on the eDocine platform.

On the other hand, the key features and application for doctors include visibility and patient reach, patient compliance, real-time compensation, for doctors, collaboration and international clientèle.

“Doctors gain invaluable visibility from feed interaction and ability to engage patients continuously, regardless of location,” said Gopwani. “Seamless and efficient delivery of health information between doctor and patient results in a more informed patient; and therefore better compliance to prescribed treatment. All payments from patients are collected within the app and relevant fees distributed to the doctor at specified intervals. This takes the hassle out of the collection process, while providing a safe and secure method for billing.

“There is better doctor-to-doctor connection through instant messaging platform, which is free to use and will increase the overall patient care and management. Plus it is the perfect platform to support health tourism. After a procedure is completed and the patient leaves the country, the platform will allow the doctor to continue remote management of the patient. There will also be a cost savings as this implementation will reduce the frequency of a physical visit,” he said.

Regarding accountability for patient privacy, Gopwani said eDocine is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant. HIPAA sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data.

“Any company that deals with protected health information must ensure that all the required physical, network and process security measures are in place and followed,” he said.




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