Sunday, August 28, 2011

Telehealth in Australia - GP2U

When our Health Minister Nicola Roxon announced that Telehealth was going to receive Medicare funding my first thought was fantastic, it's about time. Australia's a big country, and Telehealth is a potentially great solution to some of the problems we have. This was fairly rapidly followed by a whole series of practical questions like:

  1. How does a GP out the back of Bourke find a City Specialist willing to offer a Telehealth appointment?

  2. What technology choices make Telehealth widely accessible?

  3. How do the necessary documents change hands?

  4. How does the specialist get paid when the patient may be thousands of kilometres away? and quite importantly;

  5. Why would specialists want to be involved? - they are already busy.

If you can't provide practical answers to all these questions and more, you can't expect Telehealth to actually deliver improved health outcomes to patients because it won't see widespread use.

Looking purely at the booking logistics the hotel booking system sprang to mind, and with that thought GP2U Telehealth was born. Imagine specialist doctors being like hotels and vacant rooms being like vacant appointment slots and you will see many of the logistical tasks required for an effective Telehealth system are quite similar.

Of course there ARE many differences between the system we've built and wotif but at it's heart GP2U is a bookings management system, specifically tailored with usability, accessibility and medical confidentiality in mind.

For a specialist using the system an entire appointment can be managed with less that half a dozen mouse clicks, with a single click being all that's required to connect a videoconference connection to a patient.

For a GP a specialist referral can be completed in less than a minute.

So how's it going? I'm sure a marketing guru would use words like "taking the market by storm" but that smells of hype and hyperbole to me. Enjoying widespread and rapidly expanding use would however be fair.

Have a look for yourself: