TELEHEALTH MOVES TO THE BROWSER Telehealth provider GP2U recently released a new version of its iPhone app with in-built WebRTC functionality and is now using the technology to conduct video conferences between GPs, specialists and patients through its website. The company is also getting ready to make its presence a bit more public, having bedded down many aspects of its technology platform.
KATE MCDONALD Journalist: Pulse+IT email@example.com
Early last year, Tasmanian-based telehealth firm GP2U caused a few ripples in the medical press when it announced it was launching a paid service that would allow patients to see a GP via video conference. Called Skype2doctor, the service allows patients to make an appointment online for a video conference from home over Skype with a remote doctor, usually working from home as well. The idea is to allow patients to register to use the service, choose a GP by appointment time, location, gender, languages spoken or services offered, and to sit in a virtual waiting room until the appointment time. The GP can write a prescription for the patient if necessary and fax it to their nearest pharmacy, and can also transfer a medical certificate for the patient to print out, along with a copy of the consultation notes that can be sent to the patient’s regular GP. The GP sets their own fees for the consultation, and the patient pays by PayPal or credit card. While both the AMA and the RACGP raised doubts about the service, fearing it would disrupt the traditional GPpatient relationship, GP2U’s founder,
James Freeman, said at the time that Skype2doctor was merely an extension of a new mode of practice and would provide a mechanism for any Australian GP to deliver telehealth care to any patient. GP2U itself runs on the more ‘traditional’ model, providing a platform for GPs to consult with specialists under the Medicare-funded arrangement. Many of those specialists are part-time doctors who work from home, and Dr Freeman estimates that GP2U now does over 20 per cent of all Medicare-funded specialist telehealth consults in the country. Dr Freeman has spent several years building the technology platform behind both services, including building a secure online portal with 256-bit SSL encryption, an online practice management system stored behind a Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) gateway, and compatibility with Cisco, Lifesize, Mirial, Polycom, Skype, Spranto, Tandberg and Vidyo endpoints. It has also developed a method for DB4 assignment of benefits forms to be signed digitally, an automatic billing system for both private billing and Medicare bulk billing, and a secure store and forward system that allows sharing of clinical images and other files.
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