Interview with Telemedi: A first look at telemedicine in 2022 – #BHHMembersInitiatives

New BHH member Telemedi is active in advanced digital healthcare solutions, implementation, and high-quality services of +100k remote doctor consultations run on +20 global markets with a group of +500 GPs. They conducted an interview with Rafael Rodríguez, Business Development Director at Telemedi Spain.

Telemedi is present in over 20 markets in Europe and in some Latin American markets as well. What trends do you think we will see in digital healthcare in 2022?

The Covid-19 pandemic has paralysed the whole world. Every country, every community had to face the challenge of providing medical care to all those in need – those who contracted the virus and those suffering from chronic diseases and conditions. Two conclusions can be drawn from the experience of last year’s fight with the pandemic. One – that focusing all medical sectors on the fight with the virus prevented many people from continuing their current treatment. Two – that we live in a world of different accessibilities to knowledge and technology. Developed economies, despite their access to the Internet, with its advanced interpersonal communication tools, failed to effectively use them, which resulted in limited access to medical care. Medical staff accessibility was even worse in countries that are not so technologically advanced, where most problems are solved during face-to-face meetings.

Therefore, access to digital healthcare in the immediate area should be treated as a response to these two key problems. We have to test and implement technological solutions that will enable access to telemedicine, making people feel safe and live healthier, especially in less technologically advanced countries. This calls for a comprehensive, value chain approach that can only be achieved by building ecosystems that ensure the cooperation of large global insurance market players, medical services providers, as well as specialized digital healthcare companies, to create solutions tailored to the needs of a given market or community.

Ultimately, the teams responsible for designing and implementing such solutions must be supported by the government. That should enable the possibility of reaching people in need with remote medical consultation service, regardless of where they live.

The main recipients of Telemedi services are insurance and assistance companies. How has their demand for telemedicine evolved over the last year? What are they looking for today?

The previous year has taught us to approach healthcare in a completely new way. It also defined a new need for solutions and support in the field of telemedicine.

While telemedicine has become widely available, it is easy to use for digital native young people. For older people, using it can be challenging. To ensure accessible and affordable medical care, insurers, medical entities and technological companies should be more focused on building comprehensive and more intuitive solutions. Patients – and doctors as well – should spend more time on treatment and less on learning to use new tools and on doing the paperwork.

Therefore, plug-and-play digital healthcare platforms will be the key to solving this problem. Platforms that will automate and speed up tedious procedures. Tools such as artificial intelligence or symptom checkers which, based on the symptoms reported by the patient, will allow to pre-determine the problem and shorten the time of the entire consultation, including diagnosis and issuing an e-prescription, which can also be automated.

Using all those smart solutions for modelling and preventive care seems an obvious way to go in the next 5 years, when working with high claim ratio portfolios – like life insurance policies or critical illnesses. Especially when one takes into consideration the aging of the Spanish society. Using those solutions could both improve the underwriting and provide better products for future customers.

From my point of view, these specific activities and tools indicate the direction in which medical care is heading. Basic treatment and medical consultation in the next few years will be provided mainly remotely, with the use of advanced digital healthcare technologies supporting the work of doctors. All primary healthcare will be provided through remote telemedicine solutions. This will significantly reduce costs and save time, both for patients and the medical entities.

Thus, face-to-face visits will be employed in specialist treatments and other cases, where a personal visit is necessary.

Do you think innovation in digital healthcare should be driven by insurance companies, or is it startups and their achievements that should be the driving force behind it?

Insurers, assistance companies, banks, medical providers, healthcare startups and other market competitors are all currently being forced to implement digital healthcare innovations.

I believe that the key to the successful development of telemedicine worldwide is cooperation, building teams responsible for joint implementation of solutions. Nobody will do it on their own and nobody should implement solutions for themselves. We should share our knowledge and experience, and promote the best solutions. There is room for insurance companies, assistance, banks, medical companies, IT companies, digital healthcare startups and governments as well. With all of them involved, we will create ecosystems able to understand a given market and offer it specific solutions.

The covid-19 pandemic is not slowing down. What have we learned so far? What should we do to ensure even better access to doctors during the next social restrictions phase? Is the hybrid model of remote and stationery services the solution?

In my opinion, the hybrid model will help create a catalogue of problems and diseases that can be solved and consulted remotely. This in turn will relieve the public health service and guarantee as many in-patient visits as possible for those cases that require them. This requirement will be determined both by the specific disease, as the intensity with which a person goes through it.

This also applies to the treatment of all cases of Covid-19. As society is in the process of immunization and gaining herd immunity, despite the increase of new infections, it may turn out that fewer people will need hospital treatment than in the previous year, however, as of today this is still an unknown question.

Ultimately, the point is that the patient should have a choice and know which treatment path to choose. Therefore, in addition to creating telemedicine solutions, the key will be to educate the society and promote those solutions that will put the improvement of healthcare in the first place.

What can you bring, what do you expect after joining Barcelona Health Hub?

Since 2014, we have been upskilling and providing businesses with a plug-and-play digital healthcare platform that includes modules like telemedicine, automated triage, Artificial Intelligence, medical devices monitoring and API integrations. We consider the expectations of our customers and the specificities of local markets. So we name ourselves a trusted partner in advanced digital healthcare solutions, implementation, and high-quality services of over 100 thousand remote doctor consultations in more than 20 global markets with a group of over 500 GPs.

Today, we read the market, recognize the needs of our clients, and predict the future. We upskill businesses and provide advanced digital healthcare solutions to be used by an ever-growing number of patients all over the world. Our experience and up-to-date knowledge are one of the most valuable resources in the current digital healthcare market and we want to share it. That is why we have decided to join Barcelona Health Hub. To help understand the change, and design solutions answering the challenges of digital transformation.

This is what we come with and what we expect. Participation in research and development, opportunities for cooperation on projects providing accessible and affordable digital healthcare services.