Building out telemedicine ecosystem in Jamaica as social distancing becomes the norm
Telemedicine gathering traction in Jamaica with COVID-19Sunday, May 31, 2020
BY DURRANT PATE
Given the advent of COVID-19 and its new worldwide norm of social distancing, the use of telemedicine by practising physicians and patients is set to accelerate in Jamaica.
As such, medical technology solutions companies across the globe are lining up to facilitate the increased demand for telemedicine due to the spread of the novel coronavirus and the need to avoid large gatherings and close social encounters. Telemedicine is the most topical issue in the medical space today and for good reason, because it addresses many of the concerns regarding the implications of COVID-19, in particular instant access to medical care and attaining efficiencies in medical treatment.
Generally telemedicine allows health care professionals to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients at a distance using telecommunications technology. Telemedicine involves the use of electronic communications and software to provide clinical services to patients without an in-person visit.
The approach has been through a striking evolution in the last decade, and it is becoming increasingly important in the world today, particularly with the onset of COVID-19. Telemedicine is not new to Jamaica, but its use has not been widespread.
TELEMEDICINE GLOBAL ACCELERATION WITH COVID-19
However, medical experts are predicting that this will not be the case in the very near future, which happens to be now. Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS), which is the leading provider of health technology solutions in Jamaica, is pushing to take advantage of the anticipated growth of telemedicine in Jamaica.
Chief executive officer of AIS, Douglas Halsall told the Jamaica Observer, “Te lemedicine has facilitated the continuation of care even under unusual circumstances as we have seen with the current COVID-19 pandemic. The technology has given access to people, who otherwise couldn't physically go to a doctor's office, and has allowed the doctor to have uninterrupted patient care.”
He pointed out that the benefits for a solo practice using telemedicine are tremendous, as it saves doctors' time and more hours can be spent on patients and less on things like driving in traffic. Family time also benefits from the flexibility that this will allow as it can be used from anywhere.
Halsall made the point that telemedicine is not simply a video call. “The right telemedicine system has to include a payment system, the ability to facilitate claims adjudication, be able to integrate with the patient's electronic medical record, accommodate multiple caregivers on a call, facilitate e-mailed prescriptions, and an appointment management system must be built in,” the AIS CEO remarked.
Halsall pointed out that AIS, which has been pioneering telemedicine in Jamaica for the past 20 years, envisions having a complete health ecosystem for Jamaica that is digital. Such a system, he articulated, will cover all areas of health care spanning digital records and prescriptions.
AIS TO THE RESCUE
As the leading health technology solutions provider in Jamaica, AIS, which processes over 130,000 health insurance claims per day for the public and private sector, recently rolled out its Medical Practice Management System (PAS-MD), which has several features, including telemedicine. Some of the features of the telemedicine component include:
Quick and easy appointment scheduling
Recording of your audio/video encounter saved for 90 days
Health Insurance Portability and Accountabilty Act-compliant recording services
All patient encounters can be transferred to the electronic medical record (EMR)
Ongoing negotiations with health insurance companies for use of insurance on the platform
Remote care integration
Payment options include Quisk and all major credit cards
An important feature of the telemedicine component is that physicians have local and remote access to patient's emergency medical records and consequently telemedicine must be integrated into practice management. Halsall disclosed that the system is so designed that soon it will allow for remote treatments and dispensation.
AIS Business Development Manager Shekar Reddy Sanumpudi detailed the benefits of of its PAS-MD package, where doctors have end-to-end practice management system for clinics, telemedicine, and regular office visits in one system; emergency medical records accessibility; round-the- clock, real-time processing of health insurance claims; advanced billing solution; and easy referrals.
For patients, Sanumpudi told Sunday Finance that they will benefit from secured medical records, personalised patient portal, and easy payment gateways.
For doctors with multiple medical practices, the software will allow for their practices to be linked, including their electronic medical records. This means patients can move across practice locations and be assured of continuity of care as the doctors will have 24/7-365 access to their records.
There is also the ability for physicians to have unlimited access to their diary, to view appointments and other scheduling matters. PAS-MD can also be integrated with remote care management devices most of which can automatically update the EMR.
The Practice Management platform is very cost effective and is customised for practice.
PAS-MD is easy to install and offers everything physicians would need to manage their practice in-office or remotely. AIS will be waiving the licensing fee until December 2020, to facilitate the increased demand for telemedicine due to the spread of the coronavirus, representing savings of US$1500.
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