VICTORIA, BC (March 31 2020)
Author: Paula Parker, Community Manager VIATEC
While Victoria’s tech community has been quick and agile in it’s response to help flatten the curve of the coronavirus by adhering to social distancing policies such as working remotely, recipient of the Product of the Year Award at the 2018 VIATEC Awards, Telmediq, has had a direct and far-reaching impact on the solution to end the current outbreak of COVID-19.
Supporting nearly 30,000 clinics and 350 hospitals in the US, Victoria-founded Telmediq (recently acquired by PerfectServe) is consummately suited to help in a pandemic. From his home office in Victoria, BC, we recently video conferenced with Telmediq Founder and PerfectServe’s Chief Product Officer, Ben Moore, to get insight into the coronavirus from his unique perspective as a technology provider in healthcare.
The timing couldn’t have been better for helping healthcare workers communicate with one another and their patients. Moore tells us the usage of their solutions have quadrupled since the COVID-19 crisis began. And it was just three weeks ago when PerfectServe added enhanced functionality to allow healthcare systems to communicate with patients and their families directly over text and video. Their software is directly helping healthcare professionals manage the overload and ultimately slow down COVID-19 and they’re offering it to their current clients complimentary. That’s one out of every eight doctors and ten percent of all nurses in the US, who can now use their platform to communicate with patients and their families at no additional costs to the healthcare system.
Imagine droves of people showing up to a clinic to be tested for COVID-19. They’re in a long line up or forming a crowd. And each of them are experiencing a range of symptoms: coughing, fever, some are having difficulty breathing. Contrast that with a coordinated effort in which each person receives a text message letting them know where and when they will have curbside access to a test. The message instructs the patient to park, stay in the car, call a designated phone number, and wait for a test to be administered at their vehicle. And that’s just one scenario. The interface enables secure, two-way communication with patients for conducting risk or screening assessments. This means health professionals can ask about symptoms and monitor responses.
“We simply cannot overestimate the importance of efficient and effective communication between healthcare practitioners and between them and their patients,” Moore explains. “The more nimble the response effort, the better the care team can prioritize care and escalate the patients who need it most.”
Additionally, they’re using the technology to try and catch potential cases even before they walk in the door. Directly after a reminder for an existing appointment is delivered, another message follows that asks the patient to call a telephone number to initiate a phone screening with a clinician if they have flu-like symptoms.
Due to COVID-19, hospitals have locked their doors to non-essential visitors including patients' family members. As a result, PerfectServe created a tool that can provide regular updates to family members of patients that are admitted to the hospital. Family members can receive updates for their loved ones through secure group messaging provided directly from healthcare workers and frontline staff.
In the midst of this crisis, a big factor for healthcare practitioners working at maximum capacity is physical and psychological stress. To minimize burnout, it’s critical to have efficient systems for scheduling shift work, on-call shifts and the accurate transfer of patients’ information from one physician to another. Their software allows schedulers to ensure optimal coverage while providing them control, analysis and optimization.
Back in 2003, when SARS broke out, physicians were relying on pagers and patients had no access other than long waiting times over the phone. But in more recent years Moore tells us, “The technology has not been the issue. The impediment has been the business model of delivery, which now, because of this crisis, is being transformed.” He estimates our systems are three to five times faster than just a few years before. And that makes him hopeful for the future.
“Already we can look at the communication patterns in message data and see precisely when the symptoms began being reported,” Moore says. This means early identification of trends and possibly the first signs of an outbreak. “The future in healthcare and technology will be in utilizing big data and AI to better handle and predict patient interactions.”
Telmediq’s products are already fully integrated with telehealth but they’re about to take that to the next level. The continued success of our local tech companies like Telmediq will positively impact our tech community, our local economy and now more than ever, we can appreciate the large scale benefits too. These advances in healthcare, specifically in technological communication systems within healthcare, have a massively positive effect on the global population. Even during a crisis, we can take pride in the dedicated and hardworking innovators of our tech community who continue to push technology and our local tech sector forward.