Virtual Visits: How to Enable Remote Doctor Appointments

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people are afraid to visit the doctor’s office or other healthcare facilities to address their healthcare needs. Indeed, the possibility of catching the coronavirus is higher in crowded places like busy waiting rooms. As a result, many people are choosing to stay home, self-medicate, and risk worsening their condition.

In response, healthcare providers and payors, have been seeking alternatives to traditional office appointments. Fortunately, we can take advantage of modern digital health technology.

Software developments helping us overcome COVID-19 

Some governments and businesses have already implemented digital solutions in times of COVID-19 to fight the virus. 

Apps like the Spanish Salud Responde, the Polish Home Quarantine (Kwarantanna domowa), and the international COVID Symptom Tracker help with prevention, instructing users on what to do if they have suspicious symptoms and collecting data to research the spread and behavior of the virus. There are also chatbots like WHO by the World Health Organization that share the latest news and recommendations related to the coronavirus. 

But none of the solutions above can provide real-time remote services and help by a doctor and are only designed to fight the coronavirus. How can we enable individuals who are feeling unwell but aren’t necessarily infected by COVID-19 to see a doctor promptly and safely? 

The answer is to use an online doctor-on-demand platform with live health video chat functionality that’s tailored to the needs of clinical practices. Medical institutions can effectively replace many in-office visits with such a service for the duration of the pandemic. In this post, we’ll describe Healthfully, a ready-made solution you can adopt at short notice.

creating an appointment for a virtual doctor consultation in the healthfully app

Healthfully: A ready-made all-round healthcare management solution 

For five years, we’ve been helping Healthfully — formerly Optima Curis, an American company that provides enterprise healthcare solutions — enable healthcare providers to maintain a 24/7 connection with patients. 

Stable doctor–patient connections are possible thanks to Healthfully’s cloud-based subscription software, which can be private-label or come with Healthfully branding depending on your needs. Healthfully provides both a web platform and iOS and Android apps. The functionality of these apps can be roughly divided into the following categories:

Service-supporting functionality

These Healthfully features make scheduling appointments, paying for services, and treatment processes simple and convenient for patients.

Appointment scheduling. Patients can book appointments, check in, and use a get in line feature to access all healthcare services provided by a healthcare organization. 

Automated Consent and Pre-visit Forms

Push notifications. Patients receive notifications including reminders about scheduled appointments and medication alerts.

Payment processing. Healthfully processes online patient payments for office and online appointments.

Management and patient monitoring functionality

These features help a healthcare organization manage their workflow and monitor patients’ health and satisfaction. 

Management dashboard. Administrative activities, patient check-ins, provider/patient rosters, and clinical workflows can be managed in a dashboard. 

Patient surveys. An organization using Healthfully can conduct customized surveys to monitor patients’ conditions and satisfaction. Setting up specific trigger parameters during the patient survey allows doctors to receive notifications so they can adjust treatment or suggest extra screenings. 

Internet of Things (IoT). Healthfully provides remote patient monitoring by means of fitness trackers and medical devices.

Communication functionality 

Healthfully offers three communication channels, ensuring privacy along with a patient’s ability to bring together family members, caregivers, and medical personnel.  

Messaging. Patients, their relatives, and their doctors can create chats or communicate one-on-one via end-to-end encrypted messages. 

Social community component. Medical personnel, relatives, and friends can build a patient-centered community with different levels of access to a patient’s health information. There are also anonymous communities devoted to different health problems where patients can share their problems and experiences. 

Virtual doctor appointments. Users can schedule and attend virtual doctor visits via the mobile apps or the web platform.

Virtual doctor appointments are the focus of this post, as such communication tools allow doctors and patients to avoid in-office visits.

adding appointments in the healthfully web app as a healthcare provider

Read also: How to Develop a Successful Anonymous Social Networking App

Just the virtual visit solution the doctor ordered

The Healthfully virtual visit solution helps patients, doctors, and healthcare organizations.

Patients can use Healthfully to:

  • book an appointment or connect with an urgent care physician immediately
  • consult with a  physician fast and safely
  • get a prescription and a sick note without leaving home
  • pay for online patient-doctor consultations
  • access a history of all doctor visits

doctors available for a virtual visit in healthfully

Doctors can use Healthfully to:

  • consult with patients while avoiding physical contact
  • hold visits from any location and any device that respects patient privacy, through a  HIPAA-compliant platform.
  • access their entire history of visits

provider appointment history in healthfully

Clinics can use Healthfully to:

  • enable doctor–patient interactions using chats and communities
  • access patients’ health-related information in one place
  • track the number, duration, and time of all doctors’ video consultations
  • manage and distribute doctors’ workloads during the pandemic

During quarantine, similar virtual visit solutions might be deployed in fields other than healthcare, including in education, wellness, and consulting services. But Healthfully is about much more than just video consultations. It can be integrated into a healthcare organization’s existing system and is tailored to meet a wide range of needs. 

list of services offered by healthfully

How does the Healthfully virtual visit solution work?

For more clarity on the virtual visit flow, let’s view the steps a patient takes to see a doctor via the Healthfully app. 

  1. Log in to the app
  2. Choose for whom the appointment is being booked – the user or a dependent (e.g. a child)
  3. Choose an urgent visit or a scheduled visit
  4. Provide the patient’s personal information 
  5. State a reason for the visit, a preferred pharmacy at which to buy medicine, and a delivery method (mail order or store pickup)
  6. Provide information on the patient’s health conditions, medical allergies, and current medications
  7. Choose between available telehealth virtual care providers
  8. Pay for the visit with a debit or credit card
  9. See upcoming visits in an appointment list once the visit has been paid for
  10. Get a video consultation at the scheduled time or right away 
  11. View the details of past appointments

When building the full version of Healthfully, we had to provide telemedicine app development as soon as possible to satisfy our client’s need. Let’s see how we managed to deliver a virtual visit product within ten calendar days. 

video consultation in healthfully

How we managed to build a health virtual visit solution within ten days

To be able to create healthcare software fast and with high quality, a development team should be well-versed in the industry specifics.
Understanding user roles, the needs of each target audience, and technical specifics is a must. 

Healthcare projects also require lots of integrations, often with legacy systems and poorly documented technologies. It takes developers much time to learn how to use each technology if they aren’t familiar with it.

Thanks to our experience building complex healthcare software, we knew about the peculiarities and pitfalls and were able to cut unnecessary features, focusing only on the essential ones.

We established a process for domain-specific knowledge sharing on the go, helping to onboard new team members and ensure faster development. We also implemented process and technical solutions to ensure the simultaneous development of different features.

This approach to knowledge sharing and simultaneous work on all fronts allowed us to create the needed functionality, pick a third-party video messaging platform, and integrate it into the system within ten days.

How can you deploy Healthfully for your own medical practice?

Yalantis made this virtual visit solution capable of being integrated with any enterprise master patient index or third-party enterprise risk management system.

Healthfully can also work with different third-party video messaging platforms including Zoom, TokBox, Cisco Webex Meetings, and Microsoft Teams as well as with on-premises WebRTC-based video platforms. The choice of video messaging platform will depend on your preferences and your developers’ expertise.

How we ensured HIPAA compliance  

At Yalantis, our specialists have experience developing HIPAA-compliant software. This is what we did to make Healthfully HIPAA-compliant: 

  • Followed HL7 standards for sharing medical and administrative data online, ensuring secure and simple storage and data transfer. 
  • Recorded activity logs of all users’ activities to comply with HIPAA (logs must be kept for at least six years) and to enable Healthfully to analyze its processes to increase productivity and improve the customer experience. 
  • Deployed the software on Amazon Web Services to guarantee that all data is encrypted and to allow for building a HIPAA-compliant structure.

A few more reasons to cooperate with Healthfully

Healthfully is a reliable partner and a mature enterprise. Here are a few more reasons why you should consider Healthfully to meet your telemedicine needs:

Rhapsody integration. Healthfully has incorporated the Rhapsody engine into its platform. Rhapsody is a reliable interoperability tool with HL7- and FHIR-compliant capabilities for sharing health data. Implementing Rhapsody improved Healthfully’s ability to securely share information with EHR, scheduling, care management, and eHealth systems.

Privacy Shield Framework membership. Healthfully is a participant in the Privacy Shield Framework. The US Department of Commerce and the European Commission created this framework to help US and European organizations meet data protection requirements when sharing personal data between EU and US entities.

Currently free of charge. To fight the epidemic, the Healthfully virtual visit tool with extra features is free of charge until the end of social distancing. Throughout the pandemic, Healthfully staff are providing free implementation assistance to help you adopt the product quickly. 

Geographical expansion. In spring 2019, Healthfully expanded to the United Kingdom by opening a fully owned subsidiary based in London to support the company’s UK clients. Having entered the European healthcare market, the company aims to expand globally.

If you’re interested in using the Healthfully virtual visit service, get in touch with Healthfully directly. If you want to build software for patients and doctors or an e-visit app, we’ll create it for you at short notice. Have an idea for how to improve doctor–patient interactions during the pandemic? We’ll gladly stand by you as we’ve stood by Healthfully. Let’s join forces to help the world repel the coronavirus invasion. 

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