Artezio contributes to the telehealth development in the US. The company completed a project that will help citizens of several states get remote access to quality and cost-effective services of an online clinic providing diagnostics, treatment, and prevention of thyroid pathologies. Alexei Latsinnik, the head of the development team, describes the project development and compliance with the legislative regulations for the deployment of such solutions.
Is telemedicine popular in the USA?
There are all prerequisites for the active development of online clinics not only in the USA. It is believed that soon telemedicine will become the service for people who cannot afford a personal visit to a doctor. Online healthcare services and consultations with specialist doctors, are becoming more accessible, attractive, and convenient ways of getting high-quality services from a doctor at convenient time, place, and for little money. Doctors themselves can be located in any part of the world, and the clinic doesn’t need to pay for rent, personnel, etc. The clinic turns into an IT company – an aggregator of medical services that connects doctors and patients.
However, it is impossible to write off offline clinics entirely, they will not disappear and will be dealing with more complicated cases. We will still be visiting dentists and surgeons, doctors will perform surgeries, patients will be able to undergo MRIs, rehabilitation procedures, etc.
Have you managed to create a clinic that you don’t need to visit?
In terms of functionality, yes, we have. In terms of using the platform – it has been tested by a focus group, and soon our customer will present the solution to the wide audience.
The functional part of our solution contains everything needed for doctors and patients: dynamic healthcare questionnaires; the opportunity to make an appointment online, video conferencing for doctors and patients, secure communication via a messenger; work with medical records, medical tests, and laboratory research; messages and notifications management; an integrated task management system, etc.
Is it possible to automate the healthcare sector?
The practices of the thyroid treatment are well established and even static by their nature because much experience has already been accumulated, common approaches have been worked out. Based on the incoming data processing from specialized healthcare questionnaires, we give doctors information about types of patients, their liability to disease, recommend a treatment plan, and show an optimal pricing option. All that is necessary for a patient in the beginning is to pass interactive questionnaires online, where questions change depending on the context of answers. Of course, when receiving the information, the doctor needs to check the data to be sure that it is correct and make possible adjustments.
However, none of the existing medical services can make decisions without a doctor. The developed solutions are mostly additional tools that greatly simplify working with patients and save doctor’s precious time.
Integrations with databases of pharmacies, online services and clinics allow patients to get some medical services without leaving their homes. It is particularly urgent today when many people have to isolate themselves at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Moreover, we are not only talking about obtaining medicines. It is also possible to use the service for taking medical tests at home. Thus, upon a doctor’s or patient’s request, the company delivers a special medical kit that allows the patient to take tests themselves and send it to the laboratory. Then doctors receive lab results in the clinic, prepare a treatment plan, communicate with patients online, specify some questions, and prescribe medicines. And afterwards, the patient goes to a local pharmacy, where the pharmacist, via electronic prescription, gives the medicine to the patient.
What problems/risks can online clinics encounter if similar solutions are developed for them?
In the USA, telehealth is very popular and has good legislative support. However, this business is strictly regulated and has many requirements, rules, and standards for business processes, resources, and solutions. There are organizations that are responsible for performing an independent audit of company activities, processes, and software for compatibility with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Potential problems that occur during the audit or even worse, when there are cases of personal data leakage, result in penalties imposed on the company that can reach millions of dollars. In general, this is a highly risky business. For the same reason, not all banks are eager to cooperate with online clinics.
This was true when we searched for integration solutions. It was hard to find HIPAA compliant solutions that would fit our platform. During our audit, it turned out that even some HIPAA solutions, in fact, could not be considered compliant.
How difficult was it to interact with the owners of third-party platforms and solutions that were integrated in the project?
We made an audit and comparative analysis of the market solutions, communicated directly with the vendors, used their demo platforms for our experiments, made test integration and explained the results of our activities to the customer. Then the customer signed the documents with the vendors, and we completed full platform integration. As for communication, it was quite difficult to work with a number of vendors because some of them didn’t want to interact or provide complete information.
How long did the project development take? Can we say that the appearance of virtual clinics in the USA will take decades?
We developed a MVP in a short period of time, that is a full-fledged solution for patients and doctors, ready to be launched on the online healthcare services market. The development timeframes mostly depend on the budget and number of developers involved.
Did you enjoy working on the HIPAA project?
It is always much more interesting to work on projects that help people solve really important problems. For me, these are healthcare projects comparing, for example, to business automation projects. I hope that the team also enjoyed it, and the received knowledge and expertise will be applied in our other projects.
Would you like to use the system that you have developed?
I like using online services. Psychologically, it is hard to evaluate the quality of telemedicine that de-facto assumes less physical contact with the doctor and clinic. However, today we observe a trend of transitioning of any business online. For a patient, such treatment is much cheaper than appointment in a private clinic.
Will virtual clinics and telemedicine become trending in the USA?
We built a great tool that complies with
world practices and standards. We made all architectural and technology
decisions ourselves. Our work has already great potential
for future development and financial success.