When you’re really sick, a visit to the doctor is daunting, which is one reason medical providers are turning to telemedicine.
July 23, 2015
By David Lumb
Fast Company, Tech Forecast
Arizona Palliative Home Care started over three years ago as a small, experimental program within the massive Hospice of the Valley. It has about 350 patients contracted out for their brand of palliative care, a fairly new discipline that focuses on improving quality of life for patients who are seriously ill. They’ve had all the best medical care and aren’t at hospice stage, but going in and out of the hospital repeatedly for continued treatments they need is both difficult and expensive.
Which is why Arizona Palliative, from the outset, has used technology provided by Avizia, a telemedicine company with a video chat system to ease access between doctors and patients.
Avizia’s telemedicine tech saves Arizona Palliative on expenses, and using it hasn’t negatively affected the quality of care, says director Gobi Paramanandam. Typically, Arizona Palliative’s patients, many of whom have cancer or dementia, have a “goal of care” conversation in person with their physician to discuss quality of life—whether the patient would want to undergo chemotherapy if it buys four months more life or whether the person would rather spend that time at home, for instance. After that, doctor visits are typically performed on-screen with Avizia.
Nurses perform the first 45 minutes of care and the healthcare professionals video chat in for the last 10-15 minutes of the visit, says Paramanandam. Previously, Arizona Palliative’s healthcare professionals saw 3-4 patients per day as they drove across the Phoenix metropolitan area making house calls, but using Avizia’s video chat has doubled their rate of patients seen to 6-8 patients per day.
“Before, we would go in once a month and it wasn’t necessary. These patients have primary-care doctors, so we’re not in there managing everything,” says Paramanandam. “We’re basically trying to change behaviors, trying to catch things early before they get worse, and make sure the patient is doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”
The core element of Avizia’s telemedicine SaaS platform is a video chat system that both patients and health practitioners can use within their Internet browsers, no download needed. Healthcare providers can pay for just the SaaS platform or buy custom hospital carts that let on-site nurses plug patient-monitoring instruments (like compatible examination cameras and stethoscopes) into the carts, which send readings in real time to distant health practitioners.
Avizia’s platform also includes organizational software for the healthcare provider to handle all those video chats. The software, called Avizia One, is a virtual waiting room. A doctor on call gets a private text by the healthcare coordinator, and if the doctor doesn’t respond in five minutes, the patient goes to the next doctor on call.
“If you think about it, you’ve seen the same transformations in banking and real estate, but healthcare tends to be a couple years behind. You’d never dream of standing in line to see a teller for all your banking needs today,” says Avizia CEO Mike Baird.
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