FORBES: The Future Of Telehealth In A Post-Pandemic World

Forbes.com
By Gary Drenik, Contributor
Jun 2, 2022 – 10:00 GMT

The Covid-19 pandemic changed healthcare. We saw clinic closures, overflowing emergency rooms, disruptions to routine care, doctor shortages and the entire industry stretched thin. This, combined with social distancing and lockdowns, drove a sudden mass adoption of telehealth, while also highlighting weaknesses in the system.

It is safe to say that the widespread acceptance of telehealth has since been established and that it is now seen broadly as a viable option for care. However, there are gaps in what the most basic version of telehealth can provide when it comes to diagnostics, data security, and accessibility. According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics Survey, over 36% of adults have used a telemedicine service during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I recently spoke with Antonio Baldassare, CEO of UniDoc Health, which has created the H3 Cube, a standalone remote health clinic housed in a private kiosk that enables a lower-cost, real-time, remote doctor visit with a full suite of diagnostic tools and secure video conferencing technology housed inside. With this, patients are able to undergo full consultations as if they were present in a physician’s office. The company was inspired by their belief that healthcare is a right, and that everyone deserves access to quality care regardless of where they live or what their circumstances are.

Gary Drenik: What were some of the lessons that we learned from the rapid uptake of telehealth during the pandemic?

Antonio Baldassare: A few things became very clear, continuity and flexibility of care without sacrificing the quality of that care is paramount. During the pandemic, telehealth really became the only way for people to continuously engage with their physicians. This catalyzed people’s acceptance of the fact that yes, care can be delivered without a doctor physically in the room.

The gap emerges when it comes to the doctor’s ability to diagnose a patient remotely. It is not always possible for doctors to properly assess and diagnose conditions through phone calls or Zoom alone. This means that more often than not, many patients who sit for a remote consultation then need to follow-up in-person.

There are also accessibility issues, because not everyone has access to a high-quality mobile device or personal computer that they can use in a private, secure space with a stable internet connection. And there are others who have difficulty using computers altogether.

But we don’t need to remain stuck in this old idea of what telehealth is. The truth is that what is possible with technology has advanced more quickly than our medical system. There is no longer any need for the doctor to be in the same location as their diagnostic tools in order to get the patient data that they need.

Drenik: How is patient health data managed in each of these scenarios? Telehealth has drawn criticism for being less secure than a traditional doctor visit.

Baldassare: When a patient is present with a doctor in a clinic, it’s simple, the doctor can manually update the patient’s health record during or after the visit to the approved, compliant electronic health record (EHR) system.

For telehealth that takes place over the phone or a personal computer, the doctor still updates the EHR, but there is a potentially very serious issue with how the data is transmitted. Because patients typically use personal devices such as mobile phones or laptops, it is near impossible to ensure HIPAA compliance.

This is why we created a third option, with secure data transmission using technology that can connect directly with the EHR. Our H3 Cubes use compliant technology and a secure platform with fully integrated diagnostic tools, rather than the patient’s own devices.

Drenik: Beyond the technical, there is also the human side of all this. According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics Survey, 45.2% of people prefer to visit their family doctor. Is it possible to maintain this continuity of care as telehealth becomes the norm?

Baldassare: The first question to ask is why patients prefer to visit their family doctor. I believe that the preference is anchored in the human connection and continuity of care that it provides. Your family doctor has access to your health history, and there is a sense of comfort in the familiarity and established relationship.

I believe that the integration of telehealth has the ability to actually enhance this. Another trend the pandemic drove is the growing popularity of the digital nomad lifestyle or simply living further from urban centers and working from home. So, telehealth could actually be what enables you to keep your family doctor when relocating.

Our H3 Cubes can be placed anywhere, including hospitals, care centers, pharmacies, grocery stores, universities, and remote communities. They also adhere to accessibility standards issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to accommodate patients with a range of disabilities.

Drenik: What’s next for UniDoc?

Baldassare: I am encouraged by the idea that we are moving into a reality in which patients are empowered to be proactive about their health. Governments around the world are working to integrate technology-enabled care into legislation, and more recently, it has been proposed that telehealth can act as a tool to improve the efficiency of health services as it can enable the more efficient deployment and sharing of medical resources that are geographically dispersed.

We are currently working on bringing our H3 Cubes to a network of pharmacies in Canada, to low-income patients and veterans throughout Tucson, Arizona, and even to a growing list of African nations including Ghana and Nigeria.

We hope to be a part of building a future where everyone has access to quality care.

Drenik: Antonio, thanks so much for sharing your insights on telehealth and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on patients and care providers alike.

 

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/garydrenik/2022/06/02/the-future-of-telehealth-in-a-post-pandemic-world/?sh=3c06c47b26e1

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Mr. Thornberry is a seasoned finance professional with a background in advising start-up companies in the venture capital market. He brings extensive experience working with high-growth companies across numerous industries through his past work in the technology and innovation banking group at the Bank of Montreal and in the financial services arm of Ernst & Young advising on multiple capital markets transactions. He obtained his bachelor of commerce at McGill University and has held the CPA, CA, designation since 2019.

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Sina Pirooz

Director

Mr. Pirooz is a registered and practicing pharmacist, and has been a professional member of the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia since 2003, with over 20 years of pharmaceuticals and pharmacy management experience. As owner of a compounding pharmacy, Mr. Pirooz has been dispensing pharmaceuticals for over 18 years and provides pharmacist and pharmacy management services to many of Canada’s largest pharmacy chains and drug stores. Mr. Pirooz is also the CEO and a director of Genix Pharmaceuticals Corporation, a company listed for trading on the TSXV.

Dr. Sazzad Hossain, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer

He is the former Chief Scientific Officer of InMed Pharmaceuticals Inc., a leading public Canadian bio-pharmaceutical company. Previously he worked as Senior Scientist at Biotechnology Research Institute of National Research Council Canada. Working with the Canadian government he helped establish the pharmacology laboratory to evaluate safety and efficacy of cannabinoid-based and other drugs under development for cancer, cardiovascular and ocular diseases.

Jacob Moshinsky

Chief Operating Officer

Jacob is the CEO & founder of MoviWear a GPS, fall down detection & remote vital-sign monitoring platform, alerting caregivers of real-time emergencies. Jacob is a communications and technology expert with over 15 years’ experience in the field. the NurtureWatch health monitoring Smartwatch and MoviWearMED remote vital sign monitoring platform Prior to MoviWear, Jacob worked in both the Canadian telecom and the CPG industry. He led the Product Development and Business Strategy team at TELUS for the Small Business Portfolio. Jacob also worked in various product and service management roles within Rogers Communications where he launched and managed wireless and wireline products.

Antonio Baldassarre

CEO, President and Director

Mr. Baldassarre has held senior management and director positions of new business start-ups and established multinational organizations with over 30 years of experience in the Security, Information Technology and Communications industries. With leadership skills in management of international operations, shareholder exit strategies, and overall business development, he has utilized a wide range of strategic programs to maximize organic growth into specific industry segments through OEM, alliances, and direct multi-level distribution channels. Mr. Baldassarre is able to plan, organize and direct all aspects of a Corporation from Operations, P&L oversight, product distribution, Product promotions, sales and development activities and initiatives utilizing my extensive marketing/sales senior management experience with developed abilities in team leadership and program/campaign development. Directly involved in the growth, branding and ultimately optimizing market share, product awareness, revenues, profitability and shareholder value. Mr. Baldassare is also the President of LRG Security Canada Inc. and LRG Security Europe.

Franco Staino

Chairman of the Board of Directors

Mr. Franco Staino is the Developer of the Italian National anti-counterfeiting Program for Pharmaceuticals developed in conjunction with the Ministry of Health as well as the National Certification Program for all unsold Prescription Drugs in Partnership with Pharmindustria (National association of all Pharmaceutical Manufactures) through ASSINDE.

Through one of his Companies, Carlucci are responsible for the control, labelling and collection of all pharmaceutical prescription drugs in Italy, under the PHG umbrella Franco opened first a UK division, now has also expanded into 4 African countries. Over the Years Franco has been a Board Member and Contributor on various International Committees, including the United Nations.