Group practice sees 6-8 more patients a day with hybrid virtual care
Dr. Richard Tytus of Hamilton, Ontario, is a medical professional with extensive experience in delivering and promoting virtual healthcare. He has been providing telemedicine long before the COVID-19 pandemic. He owns a clinic and is part of a family health team of approximately 30 medical and allied health professionals.
“My journey into telemedicine was fueled by a genuine concern for a subset of patients who face physical or psychological barriers to accessing health care,” he said. “Some patients have psychological conditions that cause overwhelming fear of leaving their home, often preventing them from seeking essential medical consultations.
“Although phone calls have been part of my medical practice for some time, the introduction of videoconferencing provided a subtle way to integrate exposure therapy with treatment,” he explains.
His first foray into telemedicine was improvising using conventional videoconferencing tools for medical consultations. As the virtual care horizon expanded, he explored some telehealth systems.
“Beyond mere consultation, the vision of these systems was expanded to include a digital ecosystem,” Tytus said. “A space where a patient’s journey, from administrative check-ins to consultations with specialists, would be seamless and safe. A space where the transition from receptionist to nurse, then to a doctor and, if necessary, to a specialist, would be as effortless as walking through interconnecting rooms in a physical clinic.
“The first hiccups and revelations in the world of telemedicine, while challenging, were momentous,” he continued. “They painted a clearer picture of what the future of digital health should and could look like. It wasn’t just about technology; it was about combining technology with the human touch, leaving the essence of personalized care undiluted, even in a virtual space.”
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MEETING THE CHALLENGE
Tytus’ journey into telemedicine, beyond simple videoconferencing, led him to a platform from vendor Banty that is not only security-fortified but also government-validated, he noted.
“This assurance is backed by the successful penetration testing and alignment with ISO 27001 certification, which is a testament to the robustness of data protection,” he said. “The government-verified and validated video platform I use is not just a video consultation between a doctor and a patient, it is the fundamental supporting software for the digital transformation of healthcare in the other verticals of a family clinic, specialty clinics and small hospitals.
“One of the standout features of this platform is facilitating smooth communication within the team,” he continued. “It allows our medical team to quickly determine the availability of fellow physicians and specialists, enabling instant messaging capabilities and the seamless transfer of patients along with relevant medical notes.”
Moreover, the adaptability of the tool deserves special mention, he added.
“It is EHR agnostic, meaning it is designed to work harmoniously with any of the many electronic health record systems prevalent in North America, making it versatile and suitable for various infrastructure setups,” he explained out.
One of the most profound achievements, Tytus said, is removing the barriers patients faced in medical accessibility.
“We have elevated our standard of care, ensuring patients receive virtually the same level of medical attention as they would during an in-person visit,” he said. “By pioneering a hybrid clinic model – where certain procedures are performed in person while others transition to a virtual domain – we have not only alleviated accessibility issues but also improved our operational efficiency.
“This strategic shift has translated into a quantifiable increase in patient consultations,” he continued. “Put it in numbers, each physician on our family health team now manages to see six to eight additional patients every day, a testament to the transformative power of integrating telemedicine into our practice.”
This approach has redefined the way patients experience healthcare, he added.
“It’s no longer a choice between virtual or in-person; it’s about what best suits each specific need,” he said. “The combination of traditional and telemedicine techniques ensures that every patient receives timely attention, regardless of their physical location or mobility limitations.
“Additionally, the technology’s intuitive design and smooth integrations have empowered our healthcare professionals,” he continued. “They can now focus more on patient care rather than struggling with technological barriers. The ability to quickly connect with colleagues, discuss cases and transfer patients, all within a secure environment, has streamlined our operations. “
The ripple effects of these efficiencies are felt not only in numbers, but also in increased patient satisfaction and medical team morale, he added.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
“First and foremost, patient usability should be central to any telemedicine platform,” Tytus advised. “It is imperative that the system is intuitive and easy to use, minimizing potential technological barriers for patients.
“After all, the ultimate goal is to simplify access to healthcare, not to compound it with additional complexity,” he said. “At the same time, the platform should provide seamless integration for healthcare professionals. Physicians and healthcare teams should be able to integrate it effortlessly into their daily work, without having to endure a steep learning curve.”
And the design should be team-oriented and reflect the complicated patient journeys and workflows typical of rural clinics, he said.
“A one-size-fits-all approach will not suffice; customization and adaptability are crucial,” he concluded.
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