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October 9th, 2020

How to choose video consultation software during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Video consultation a.k.a telemedicine is not new. Still, for a long, people and healthcare organizations have been hesitant to use it for many reasons including data security issues, lack of options, technical barriers, and relatively low adoption. However, the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has changed this forever.

Video consultation has evolved but the evolution hasnā€™t been fast. In a short span of time, while people were locked in their homes ā€” many patientsā€™ have been hesitant to go to the hospital where chances of contracting the coronavirus have been high. This led to many players entering the market, healthcare organizationsā€™ rapid and speedy adoption of video consultation, and patientsā€™ willingness to take remote consultations from doctors. During this period, healthcare has clearly been shifting to an integrated digital approach, and therefore knowing which video consultation software to choose has become a long process. In this article, we decode that for you.

Features of video consultation software that you must consider

Consultation over communication devices is not a recent phenomenon, in fact, video consultations should be viewed as an extension of phone conversations with doctors.

Commercial video meeting software such as Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, or Facetime is used by medical and health professionals when there is an urgent need to have a video consultation with a patient during the non-availability of an internal channel. The choice of right video consultation software should be critically assessed on the following features before taking on a decision as it not only determines the quality of the video connection but plays a crucial role in the patientsā€™ experience and saves time and effort while recording the sessions and keeping a track of sensitive data. While the clinical risk of not conducting the consultation weighs heavily on the potential risk of using commercial channels, security is an uncompromising key that one must look into typical in consumer-focused services.

Listed below are essential features that are important to consider while choosing a video consultation software.

Data security and compliance with global standards

Storing patientsā€™ sensitive data and records are one of the crucial pieces of this puzzle. While different countries in the world have their data security standards, there are many global standards that commercial video consultation software follows. Ensuring that the software you choose complies with either PCI Data Security Standard, GDPR, or Data Protection Act (DPA), Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act will save your million-dollar penalties in case there are any data breaches or leaks by hackers. All of this protection acts save your data as a health service provider and the records of lakhs of concerning patients from being stolen or lost. Extra attention should be paid to data encryption and security compliance from your video consultation software provider.

Integration with your existing network

If you are a health service provider running a hospital or multiple units, you are responsible for keeping track of various records of patient data that is important to your doctors and patients. While choosing a video consultation software, consider whether the service provider can offer a solution that integrates into your existing network and allows for a dedicated developer to integrate it into your own internal network. This will save hundreds of hours of transferring data records to the consultation software. Another vital feature to consider is the availability of payment integration with your network, this makes it easier to invoice your patients directly and enable them to pay online, which has become the norm during COVID-19.

Video calls with instant messaging

Choosing video consultation software is incomplete without taking into consideration the ā€˜videoā€™ aspect of it. It is an indispensable feature that makes your patientsā€™ experience great. What to consider?

  • The software should have a secured/encrypted video streaming feature.
  • It should have streaming options that make it easy to automatically switch in case of low bandwidth.
  • Screen sharing, document sharing are non-negotiable features that make the consultation session holistic.
  • Groups calls are an added feature that you must consider as it brings more value to your patientsā€™ treatment sessions when their family members can tune in, especially after COVID-19.

A lot of patients are initially hesitant to talk about their problems on video. So itā€™s important that the software has an instant messaging feature which makes it easier for unfamiliar patientsā€™ to ease into the new paradigm. This can also serve as a place for file sharing and additional follow-ups before or after the video consultation.

Affordability and safety

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a worldwide situation where the movement of people has become restricted and therefore, to ensure safety, telemedicine has become a primary choice. So, choosing video consultation software depends on your organizationā€™s size and finding a platform that suits your pricing the best. Selecting a vendor is a long process, but in terms of safety and the relative digital adoption of many sectors during COVID-19 it is necessary. You can opt for a monthly-based subscription fee or yearly plan. This can be linked to frequency of use, while many video consultation software providers have long term plans, you can also choose a per-consultation pricing plan. Choose what fits your bill and makes reduced cost while ensuring that your doctor and patient are both safe.

What are some of the benefits of choosing a video consultation software during COVID-19?

In the current pandemic, a healthcare worker working at a hospital is exposed to high-risks of contracting the disease. In that case, the more number of people visiting the hospitals makes the probability of contracting the disease higher, so the adoption of video consultation for low to medium-risk cases helps staff stay safe and eliminates the exposure to the virus for those doctors staff stationed at the hospital. Some of the benefits of using video consultation software during a pandemic are listed below.

Fast, easy, and safe

Video consultation solutions make it easier for the public, staff, and doctors to use video sessions for non-important, non-emergency communication in an effort to reduce the workload on healthcare systems and emergency cases in healthcare organizations and clinics. People can receive care from the safety of their houses and, through the widespread adoption of the internet, get instant and fast communication on their smartphones or computer devices.

Working From Home

COVID-19 has shown that healthcare workers are the frontlines and most vulnerable to contracting the virus. So it makes sense to give space to them as much as possible. Especially for doctors who need to self-quarantine but want to continue to provide consultation to their patientsā€™ the best way to do it has been through video consultation. Doctors can easily find the medical records integrated into the system for their sessions and then perform a holistic consultation from their homes.

Learning from where patients live

An unseen benefit that has emerged from video consultation for doctors has been the ability to see where their patientsā€™ reside and where the environment of their health is. During traditional examinations at the hospital or clinic, a doctor or healthcare professional cannot learn about the environment of their patient, which can be an essential key to improving their health. A lot can be learned how one takes their medication, what time do they take it, and evaluate potential allergens or risks.

What lies ahead? The rapid adoption of video consultation software during and after COVID-19

COVID-19 has shown the world what was previously a challenge. That digital adoption of many industries is possible given that people and organizations are willing to adopt it. The pandemic has overburdened and overworked the healthcare system ā€” but with the onset of video consultation, it has helped patientsā€™ going through other ailments not be left behind.

Video consultation, a.k.a telemedicine, is a great, tailor-made solution to address the infection risk caused by the pandemic. Secure and fast services with the ability to reach out to a healthcare professional at any time, telemedicine is taking flight. In a short span of time, remote examinations and consultation have become the go-to preference for people of this planet. And for doctors, hospital staff, and medical professionals, it means that they can worry less about contracting the virus from literally anyone coming for a checkup and instead focus on providing quality consultation and service.

With the number of video consultation service providers in the market, it can often become overwhelming to choose which one is the right for you. The pointers listed above as a roadmap to help you choose the right one that fits your budget suits your organization/clinic needs and above all provides you with a holistic solution. The road ahead is promising and is for the long term as video consultation proves to become an indispensable part of a patientsā€™ and improve the overall experience of getting healthier.

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