IN RECENT years, technology has afforded us the luxury to do amazing things, including virtual healthcare. As Covid-19 has forced people to do less face-to-face interactions, and practise social distancing, it seems telemedicine, or virtual visits, to see a physician via the Internet might be the way to go.
While this practice is commonplace in many first-world countries, it is still relatively new in developing countries.
Christian Aboud is the director of Checkup, a new telehealth platform designed to assist patients in the coordination and consolidation of their medical care from anywhere and at any time. He is also the managing director of HealthDirect Services. Aboud is currently a final year medical student at The University of the West Indies and has worked in patient management and medical logistics over the last few years during his medical training.
Speaking to the Express Business last week, Aboud shared some insight on the new online health service that will be launching this week.
He said, “Checkup is powered by Health Direct Services Ltd, which is a medical concierge company. Health Direct finds doctors, books appointments, and assists patients with their care in any way possible. They also provide a 24-hour hotline and private emergency line. We are preparing to officially launch on May 21.”
Aboud says doctor visits no longer require driving to an office, sitting in a waiting room, and doing a physical exam. Now, through Checkup patients can have telephone and video consultations with a physician in the convenience of their own homes.
He said, “Patients can engage new providers (medical professionals) to seek care for their aliments and/or see a provider with whom they are familiar. Checkup also can log and transmit daily vitals such as blood pressure, glucose, and other health information to physicians for instant evaluation.”
He said, “We are not here to replace in-person doctor visits, but to support our healthcare system.”
How does Checkup work?
Checkup is a fully integrated platform. According to Aboud, the patient does not need to see a physician face to face.
He said, “A patient can simply log on to the app, either find a specific doctor or enter their symptoms and be connected to the first available doctor or to one they select. Patients can request follow-ups, send their medical records, send new reports and even receive guidance and instructions from their provider (physician) all through a completely secured platform that fully protects their identity and their data. Patients can choose which physicians, if any, have access to their medical details.”
“Checkup was in research for the last three months. There was always going to be a need for telemedicine in Trinidad and Tobago, as this is a service provided by almost every country all over the world. It was only a matter of time before it was offered to our population, and HealthDirect Services aimed to do it properly for the benefit of the nation. At HealthDirect our goal has always been to improve the health services being offered in Trinidad and Tobago and better the access that patients had to care in the country,” he said.
“I think this service will greatly benefit the elderly, mental health patients, people with disabilities, and those with chronic diseases. All of these persons can now speak to a doctor directly from their home. For chronic disease patients, for example someone with diabetes, they can enter their vitals daily on Checkup. Their doctor can also remotely monitor their entries and see trends. They can even set parameters to get notifications if the values get out of range. Patients who need counselling for mental health can do so from home. It can be so hard sometimes to leave your home as a mental health patient to go sit in a psychologist/counsellor’s office. Through Checkup they can speak to a therapist directly from home,” Aboud said.
In light of Covid-19,
have there been any
changes in operations?
“We certainly sped up the production of the app when the Covid-19 pandemic began. We also ensured that there would be a built-in screening tool for potential Covid-19 patients. While we do a medical screening test for Covid-19, we do not provide any serology or RT-PCR testing for Covid-19,” he said.
How long does it take
to see a doctor online?
On average, the process should take no longer than five-ten minutes to get connected to a doctor once they are available. This time includes loading up the application and filling out the questionnaire if needed. If no questionnaire needs to be filled, then the process is less than three-five minutes.
Are doctors based at Checkup or are they sourced from other
Aboud said, “Checkup” has no in-house doctors currently. We do however have doctors who were hand-selected to be the backbone of our general practitioner screenings. These doctors will ensure that someone is always available to seek the call of a patient in need.”
What sort of services are
available at Checkup?
For patients “Checkup” offers the following:
• Free vital tracking software to manage your healthcare
• Video and voice consultations with doctors
• 24/7 HealthDirect support
• Reduced risk of transmitting infectious diseases by seeking consults at home e.g Covid-19, mumps, measles
• Safe and convenient consultations for the elderly and physically challenged.
• Flexible consultations for persons who find in-person visits difficult to schedule, (e.g new mothers, pregnant patients, mental health patients)
Aboud said, “Checkup” offers HIPAA-compliant HL7 secured consultations which means all information of and about the consultation is completely encrypted and only available to persons the patient allows access to.”
For Providers “Checkup” offers the following:
• Customisable scheduling
• Access to existing and new patients
• Remote monitoring for chronic patients
• Better connectivity to their patients
• Flexible pricing constructs
Can patients do multiple
Aboud said, “Yes. It is similar to in-person visits. Depending on the nature of the consultation, the patient can choose to have family members included. Group counselling/marriage counselling sessions are an exception to this of course.”
How are patients charged
for services rendered?
Patients are billed directly through the app. They can pay by credit card through the app or if they wish, they can also pay by cash at our offices in Woodbrook or by bank deposit. For these solutions, they will receive a prepaid code that is redeemable anytime to cover the cost of a session.
For more information, persons can call 222-4706 or visit their website