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STEP 1. Background
Telemedicine is a new trend in the healthcare industry started in Mainland China and several overseas countries. It is a digital platform designed for patients with mild symptoms, doctors can provide simple diagnosis services via video chats. Feeling the need to launch a new one in Hong Kong, our client came to us for technical support.
STEP 2. Business Challenge
Difficulty to find a suitable doctor: It is difficult to find a specialty doctor as they are very demanded. Patients need to call the clinic one by one to check if the doctor is available in a specific time slot. They might need to wait for a long time before actually meeting the doctor. Without a centralised and transparent booking system, it would be a challenge for the patient to be diagnosed immediately. Location is also one of the challenges that our client would like to address, sometimes it is difficult to find a reputable specialty doctor near the patient’s location. Travelling a long distance can be tough for a patient.
Booking management:To develop a telemedicine application, it is important to make sure the application can assist the operation of the clinic or hospital, but not hinder it. It would be a challenge to eliminate the conflict between online and offline booking so that the operation of the medical providers will be smoother.
Privacy of the medical record:For the traditional medical system, unless a major surgery is done, the patients are less likely to keep, or at least find out their previous medical records easily if they visit the clinics. It would be difficult for the patients to show their medical records to a new doctor because the records are usually kept by the clinic.
STEP 3. The Solution
Centralised filter for specialty doctors: There is a sorting function in the telemedicine application for the patients to set up their favorable time slots, doctor types, and even ratings. Once the patients finish setting up their filters, doctors who matched the requirement will show up and be selected by the patients. If available, the patients may video chat with the timeslot immediately after settling the payment. With a centralized booking status of various doctors, the patients are more likely to find an available one immediately, without waiting for a week or more.
Video call diagnosis:If the patients are not able to go outside, they may book a session online and meet the doctors at home via video chat. Symptoms like wounds, or skin disease may even be shown to the doctors so that more accurate results can be obtained. Also, when it is time for diagnosis, the patients will enter the waiting room first, and they will be arranged to meet when the doctors are ready so that a one-on-one diagnosis will be guaranteed. With the integration of the video call function and the application, the users do not have to shift to other applications for video chat, making it a standalone telemedicine application.
User-friendly system design:For the clinics, There will be a central admin for every medical unit subscribing to the telemedicine platform. The owners may open access to different staff members for help. The doctor (or the person in charge of scheduling), may select only the time slot they are available in. They may confirm the reserved time slots of the clinic first, then tick out the unavailable time slots. Thereby, the conflicts of online and offline bookings will be less likely to occur. Such a flexible design made sure that the online and offline operation do not contradict.
Patients’ control of medical records:It is easier to adopt the big data technology with a digitized platform, to store the medical details of patients. Patients may inquire about their medical records anytime they want and they have the right to control the disclosure of their records to the new doctors. If they do not want to show their records of previous diagnosis and medicine prescriptions, they can set up in the application and their personal information will be secured.
STEP 4. The Results
Within expected time, we have developed a model for this telemedicine application. We have successfully combined different functions, designed a user-friendly interface and system that can benefit both the medical units and the patients. It is believed that telemedicine would be more common in the future and hopefully it will act as a remedy for the over-pressure problems of the healthcare system in Hong Kong, especially under the Covid-19 pandemic.