Video consult is now integral part of health care process

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Videoconsult is now integral part of health care process

Last year, pressure increased considerably in the healthcare sector due to COVID-19. In order to unburden healthcare workers and reduce the risk of infection, research was conducted to establish how the healthcare process could be improved. Meander Medical Center in Amersfoort, the Netherlands also quickly adjusted to the new reality. In collaboration with digital healthcare communications specialist Medify and online video consultation specialist Webcamconsult, Meander tested various support solutions for healthcare workers.

Eva van Katwijk-Leemans, Project Leader for Digital Innovation at Meander, and Medify COO Peter Krol discuss digital healthcare communication and the healthcare sector’s capacity for innovation.

Van KatwMarianne Beersijk-Leemans: “We had used video consultation before, but as a standalone solution. As a result, we needed to schedule appointments in two different systems. This generated a lot of extra work, so it was neither efficient nor user-friendly. When the corona crisis hit in 2020, we wanted to upscale our usage of remote consultation quickly. Many of our people were providing corona-related care, and to organize this we needed a simple and efficient system. Medify had previously successfully integrated the Gastroenterology & Hepatology and Orthopaedics departments’ schedules for digital information sessions, so we asked them if they could provide a solution.

“Video consultations are in line with Meander’s strategy, in which digital innovation plays a pivotal role. We analyze a patient’s healthcare path to determine which blocks are needed. Anything that can be done digitally, we do digitally, because this is the only way to achieve efficiency gains. Ease-of-use for our patients and our staff is key.”

Meander is involved in innovative developments in the healthcare sector, which allows them to make the technology practicable, now and in the future. The hospital wants to give ICT and healthcare professionals the opportunity to innovate and carry out implementations. This combination of innovation and practicability was evident in the collaboration with Medify and Webcamconsult.
Medify PeterKrol: “Many doctors view replacing physical meetings with video consultations as something of a challenge. Creating benefits is key, because this way, the transition to video consultations is easier. Video consultations are often perceived as a replacement for face-to-face consultations, but we prefer not to view them this way. For many years, Medify has been striving to ensure that both the patient and the doctor receive all of the information they need digitally in advance of the consultation. All of the administrative procedures, such as the provision of information and pre-screening, are carried out before the consultation takes place. This way, the healthcare worker can focus all of their attention on the patient and the diagnosis. When this is standard practice within the healthcare process, the introduction and acceptance of video consultations will run more smoothly. After all, every patient’s medical details can be viewed in the Electronic Patient Dossier (EPD) at any time. This way, doctors will be able to simplify their video consultations, so they feel more like a conversation, with only the minimum of administration.”

Krol began looking for a party that offered the right video consultation facilities and was able to integrate with Medify. Key requirements included ISO and NEN certification, whether the party was GDPR-proof, and/or whether we could connect through an API. According to Krol, Webcamconsult fulfilled all of these requirements.
Krol: “We contacted them and asked if they could interface with our healthcare platform. They responded immediately and the implementation was completed swiftly. In addition to Webcamconsult, Medify has integrations with multiple other video consultation parties. Meander opted to start with Webcamconsult.”

Medify wants to digitize the healthcare path from end to end.

Still002Our goal is for patients not to have to visit the hospital unnecessarily,” Krol explains. “We utilize technology and data to provide patients with the best possible service. A new digital and integrated outpatient process for all new patients and existing patients under observation must be agreed with and designed in consultation with the various stakeholders. It’s an intensive process. Video consultations are still new to many people, doctors and patients alike. Proper change management is essential if the project is to be a success.”

Krol has observed that the majority of Meander’s staff and patients are receptive to the new outpatient process. Krol:Doctors are getting to grips Webcamconsult quickly, and patients have also taken to it very well. The outpatient module contains a step-by-step explanation of the next video consultation.”

In 2020, we observed a marked increase in the usage of online video consultations. Webcamconsult specializes in integrations with parties like Medify, and has a 99.9% quality rating. Thanks to the stable connection and ease-of-use, Webcamconsult is now the Netherlands’ market leader in video consultation in the healthcare sector. Digitization of the healthcare path is still in its infancy, however, despite the fact that more care needs to be provided within the same budget.

First of all, the practitioners are given an online training course consisting of a tutorial video and a manual. In advance of the first consultation, each practitioner is individually instructed on how to start and conduct the consultation. An online ‘consulting room’ is created automatically for this purpose.

Van Katwijk-Leemans: “Many doctors still consider video consultations to be a replacement for telephone consultations, even though the areas of application are obviously much broader. In order for new technology to be implemented successfully, it needs to work properly right out of the box. Due to the situation in 2020, we wanted to increase production, but we only had limited waiting-room facilities. Thanks to the arrival of video consultation with schedule integration and provision of information to patients, we were able to upscale quickly. As a result, more and more departments started using video consultation.”

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The integration of Webcamconsult in Medify reduces the administrative burden for doctors’ assistants. It also ensures that the patient’s and the practitioner’s time is used more effectively. The Dutch Outline Agreement on Specialist Medical Care stipulates that this care needs to be of a high quality and effective, and that healthcare providers must ensure its accessibility and affordability in the long term.

Krol: “We view it as our responsibility to facilitate a transformation of the healthcare sector. Standardization, optimization and digitization of the communication between doctors and patients are an important part of this. Video consultation fulfills a pivotal role within in spectrum.”

Van Katwijk-Leemans: “The Dutch Hospital Association (NVZ) recently set up a video conferencing focus group to enable users to share their experiences and learn from one another. We have noticed that ICT hardware and infrastructure issues such as outdated Citrix environments, an insufficient number of webcams or a lack of bandwidth can represent a bottleneck in digitization processes. We are currently resolving these issues with the hospitals.”

Webcamconsult founder and CEO Bert van Gerwen is pleased with the collaboration with Meander Medical Center and Medify.
Van Gerwen: “This collaboration is proof that digital innovation is attainable in the healthcare sector. As the market leader in video consultation in the healthcare sector, we have a responsibility to make this aspect of digital healthcare as easy to use as possible. Practitioners and patients follow a comprehensive healthcare process involving multiple parties. It is vital that the various components of this healthcare process integrate seamlessly so users do not notice the complexity of the underlying technology. For instance, it is essential that healthcare organizations transform the backlog caused by the corona crisis quickly but thoroughly, so as not to jeopardize the quality of the healthcare. But it’s not too late: eHealth organizations such as Medify and Webcamconsult are equipped and ready to upscale quickly.”

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