Video conferencing technology is creating a powerful opportunity for the healthcare sector by improving access for patients while helping practitioners become more efficient.
The pandemic increased the role of remote healthcare. That includes medical practitioners having virtual appointments with their patients via video call, otherwise known as ‘telehealth.’
“The world is permanently hybrid now,” says Andy Tyra, CEO of video conferencing company Whereby. “While interest in virtual events decreased after Covid-related restrictions were lifted, telehealth consultations, particularly those concerning mental health, have proved to be durable because patients and practitioners alike saw benefits from this way of working.”
Why does video conferencing work for telehealth?
“It starts with accessibility. Video conferencing gives patients easy access to practitioners, regardless of geography. For example, if they need to see a specialist, but live in a remote part of the country, telehealth is a remarkable connection tool.
“Ease of access also makes patients more proactive participants in their own healthcare,” argues Tyra. “Instead of scheduling a GP appointment weeks beforehand, then taking time off work and travelling to the surgery, they can just click on a link and talk to their doctor. Convenience creates a behaviour change which increases patient engagement.”
Telehealth is a big benefit for the NHS. “It allows for more effective triage of patients and allocation of precious resources,” says Tyra. “A practitioner can talk to a patient and assess if their problem can be solved there and then, or if further in-person consultation or examination is necessary.”
Ease of access also makes patients more proactive participants in their own healthcare.
Telehealth must be easy to use, safe and secure
Naturally, any telehealth solution must be easy for patients to use. “For instance, our product can run efficiently inside a web browser on a computer or mobile phone,” says Tyra. “Patients don’t need to download an app or set anything up; they simply access the video call through their trusted patient portal.
“They also need assurance that calls will be secure and their details will be safe. It’s critical for any company operating in this space to be GDPR-compliant. We go beyond that and keep nothing personal or identifiable about a patient. Once a call has ended, no details are kept, and nothing is stored other than a log that it took place.”
Tyra stresses that telehealth isn’t about replacing face-to-face medical interactions entirely. “It’s about getting both options — video and in-person consultations — to work together to improve options for patients, increase their level of care, and make the healthcare system more efficient.”