Kerry-based start-up MyClinic365 is making its telemedicine platform free for GPs in Ireland for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis.
As GPs around the country deal with a major pandemic while also needing to look after their regular patients, Irish start-up MyClinic365 announced plans to donate its telemedicine platform to doctors and allied healthcare professionals for free for the duration of the Covid-19 emergency.
We caught up with founders Dr Laura Malone and Keith Lyne, who are both based in Kerry, to find out more about their platform, which was launched last year.
There are other telemedicine platforms available to Irish GPs, such as NuaHealth or Wellola, but Malone said that MyClinic365 is different.
“Our platform is a patient relationship management platform, where we focus on two things. Those two things are reducing the administrative burdens inside of GP’s surgeries and on improving patient relationships,” she explained.
‘It’s hard to get an appointment and this was the case before the Covid-19 outbreak’
– DR LAURA MALONE
Easing patient frustrations
In Ireland, there is a shortage of general practitioners, Malone said, with the number of GPs per head lower than the OECD average.
“We want to improve the patient relationship because at the moment there’s a bottleneck in general practice. It’s very difficult to get through on the phone, it’s hard to get an appointment and this was the case before the Covid-19 outbreak,” she added.
“The bottleneck is there and, as a result, a lot of patients are very frustrated before they ever go in and sit down with their doctor. To an extent, we doctors have been getting off on the wrong foot, because the system has been difficult for people to use. MyClinic365 aims to handle the patient relationship from before they arrive right up to when they leave the surgery.
“If we can manage that relationship and be more respectful to patients within our dealings, then we are able to engage them with us and with their health and hopefully get better health outcomes.”
As well as providing a platform for scheduling appointments, communicating with patients and managing workflow in a clinic, MyClinic365 can also help GPs look after patients at a time when they may not be able to consult with them in person.
Doctors can schedule, manage and collect payments for remote tele-consultations with patients for general health issues, as well as concerns about Covid-19, as long as the patient has a smartphone or PC with an internet connection.
For the last two weeks, Malone has been using the technology at her own surgery in Killarney. She said it has been “extremely useful” in protecting the health of doctors, administrative staff and patients.
“It’s very reassuring to be able to see patients as well as being able to hear them. It sounds obvious, but a picture paints a thousand words. We know our patients well in general practice, so you know by looking at people just how sick they are. Now they don’t have to leave the house unnecessarily to come see us.”
‘We said we have this platform, but we don’t want to be profiteering in the midst of the crisis’
– KEITH LYNE
She added that patients can use MyClinic365 without downloading an app, and staff can log in from home as it is a cloud-based platform.
“For a lot of the days, I have been working from home using it while there’s another doctor in the office. We’re all logged in and on the same workflow.”
However, it does help if the patient has some equipment such as a thermometer or a blood pressure cuff. “A lot of our patients have pulse oximeters, so we are asking them to have their pulse rate and respiratory rate ready for us, so we have a lot of information from the patient before we even engage in the video consultation,” Malone said.
Making MyClinic365 free during a crisis
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has provided MyClinic365 with AWS Activate credits to enable the team to now offer its telemedicine service for free during the Covid-19 pandemic. Lyne said that the start-up had been working closely with AWS, receiving advice on the platform’s architecture, so AWS knew that the start-up was working in the healthcare space.
“One of their divisions deals with the public sector, and the HSE being one part of the public sector. They contacted us to see if there was any way they could help,” he added.
“We said we have this platform, but we don’t want to be profiteering in the midst of the crisis, so we’re offering it for free. AWS came back with the offer of significant credits to allow us to offer the software for the duration of the crisis.”
Lyne added that the HSE has been “great” in making the public procurement process easier during the current health crisis, by taking down some barriers to speed up the adoption of new technology.
“I think this technology was always on the roadmap for doctors,” Malone added. “Worldwide there’s a shortage of GPs. Doctor burnout is at an all-time high. Electronic health records have become so complex that GPs are recording everything, which is contributing to burnout, and we want to help decrease that.”