Virtual healthcare has been around for a few years now, but it’s hard to fully gauge its success unless it is fully implemented in a real hospital environment.
Maple, a Toronto-based platform that enables virtual healthcare, has been testing their software in a pilot project in Eastern Canada over the last three months. The new initiative involves a process called telerounding, where a video cart equipped with a monitor is moved around the hospital and patients are able to virtually communicate with doctors via a conference call. The process is meant to replace a doctor’s morning rounds—thus, “telerounding.” This is all happening at Western Hospital in Alberton, P.E.I.
The process is made available to patients who enter the ER but are without a family doctor. The conferencing doctor can access all of the patients files and records remotely and do everything an in-person doctor can do, with the help of support staff of course.
Through the pilot process, there has been over 1,200 separate consults with over 60 patients. There has been a variety of issues and conditions presented to doctors.
“I don’t think we could have hoped for a better outcome at this stage,” Maple CEO and ER doctor Brett Belchetz told the CBC. “Our length of stay is actually down compared to what we were seeing in this hospital before this pilot came on. So we were hoping for it to be at least as good, but we’re actually seeing better numbers.”
There are a few points to strive for to see if Maple’s system—and telerounding in general–is successful. First is length of stay, which has gone down. Second is re-admittance numbers, which is the number of times a patient comes back to a hospital with the same issue or problem. According to Belchetz, those numbers are down as well.
Finally, the support staff and patients must be comfortable with the system itself. There have been a few hesitations from patients so far, but that number will reduce as more folks become accustomed to the new form of technology. Staff at Western Hospital recognise Maple’s platform is not meant to solve for long-term problems or conditions, but merely act as a bridging solution for staff shortages or expert consultations.
The pilot is expected to last another three months, after which Health PEI will review the program to see if it was a success or not. Maple will continue to tweak their system to improve it. They also have to determine a price point for the software.
Earlier this year, Maple raised a $4 million Series A to expand their platform, as the majority of their 20,000 patients and 100 doctors are in B.C. and Ontario. Maple also join OneEleven’s Insurtech Growth Program earlier this year to further scale their platform.