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Physicians are notoriously busy sorts. There was a time not too long ago when many were so bogged down with paperwork that patient relationships suffered. These days, electronic health records (EHRs) are helping immensely, saving time and effort for both doctors and their support staff as patient data is entered, stored and easily shared between facilities.
With all this extra time on their hands, doctors can now focus more on patients, whether it’s through additional face time, increased monitoring of diagnosed issues or even extra research and collaboration on more puzzling patient health conditions.
To facilitate productive doctor-patient communication, startups across the country are developing solutions to the various issues faced by physicians in their efforts to provide the best care possible.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Ringadoc has just secured a new round of funding to help it expand its patient phone call management platform. This cloud-based service allows patients to call in with health questions outside of normal business hours. Previously this was usually handled by answering services and untrained operators who would simply refer an on-duty doctor to talk to the caller, often requiring patients to describe their symptoms multiple times. With Ringadoc, patients record a message once and are then automatically transferred to an appropriate physician. Upcoming new features will involve call recording and transcriptions that can be provided both to patients for reference and for entry into EHRs.
Nhumi Technologies is another tech company working to improve doctor-patient communication. The team behind it had previously developed a “Google Earth for the human body” and is now putting it to good use as a 3D avatar to visualize a patient’s EHR. Patients can show their physicians exactly where they are hurting, and doctors can describe in more detail exactly what is happening within the patient’s body, whether it is a potentially adverse drug reaction or just revealing which muscles need to be strengthened through physical therapy to prevent recurring pain. The HealthCorpus, as they are calling it, even goes one step further and allows images to be sent home with patients, either physically or via email.
New York-based PingMD is expanding its offerings as well. Originally an app that allowed parents to easily get in touch with their children’s pediatricians, they are now broadening their scope to allow doctors to securely communicate with both patients and peers. With a fresh investment of $2.5 million, the software-as-a-service company will be able to connect general practitioners to their patients with text messages, voice calls, photos and videos who can then loop in nurses or other specialist doctors to consult on the issue. PingMD drastically reduces the response time for patient questions too, with physicians often able to respond in less than an hour. Other secure communications, such as email and other secure messaging systems, have typical response times of up to 72 hours.
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