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Health + Tech | Location optional - Healthcare management anywhere, anytime using remote connections

Published:Sunday | December 17, 2017 | 12:12 AMDoug Halsall
Doug Halsall

Traditionally, we think of going to a brick-and-mortar establishment when we want to visit a health professional either in a private practice or at a public facility.

But times are changing as access becomes more open with the development, implementation, and acceptance of health technology creating several options to remotely access healthcare.

Remote-care management tools, for example, can allow a healthcare provider and a patient to continuously track various health metrics on a daily basis and make interventions early where necessary. These are becoming more and more popular in Jamaica, even though we are notoriously slow to accept and use technology.

This change is one aspect of the ‘location doesn’t matter’ healthcare-access approach.

The present Hospital Information Management and Medical Practice Management systems being used in Jamaica gives the medical professional and patient the option of accessing healthcare remotely.

Access To Their Doctor

Although telemedicine plays a major role in this ability to access care, it is just a part of what is available. On the telemedicine side, however, a patient can use an audiovisual app to access their doctor, they can pay for the consultation through the app using mobile money, in this case, Quisk, and pretty much stay in their home, or wherever they may be during this process.

This approach is good for persons who are travelling overseas, but want to stay linked to their local physician or for emergency consultations, such as what to do if someone is having a seizure, heart attack, or needs CPR. It is also good for routine follow-up exams or a consultation on issues that may not require a physical examination.

There are benefits for the physician and the patient. For the physician, he/she can access the ‘office’ 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from anywhere in the world as long as there is Internet access.

The systems provide for efficient and easy multi-office management and access to patient’s electronic medical records ­ EMR ­ which will assist in providing proper and consistent care.
In terms of day-to-day management, a doctor can remotely manage his/her schedule, make changes if necessary, and easily communicate these with patients, all on a mobile smartphone.

A physician’s app enables this and other functionalities.

The patient app would facilitate interaction with the doctor’s calendar and allow patients to remotely schedule, reserve, cancel, or change appointments. The app would be interfaced with Quisk to provide a payment gateway so that the doctor and patient can enable paid confirmation of appointments if they so desire.

The patient can also choose which doctor they would like to see, as the app would enable them to view all those who are on duty at the time that they would require care. In addition, they can use it to find specialists in their preferred geographical area.

Both the physician and patient apps have telemedicine and remote visual patient/doctor contact capabilities.

Significant Benefits for JA

These location-optional approaches can have significant benefits for our population.

Although we have a relatively good penetration of health centres, some persons, especially in deep rural communities, are still not being adequately served because of the difficulty with securing healthcare personnel for those communities and for primary healthcare in general.

The use of technology can take the doctor to the person without the medical personnel having to be physically present. This means that several doctors can also be scheduled to give a few hours a day to a community, maximising the Government’s resources. 

For the private practices, the technology can allow doctors to efficiently manage several locations with ease.

- Doug Halsall, OD is the chairman and CEO of Advanced Integrated Systems. Feedback or