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Online doctor consultation: a powerful tool that strengthens accessibility and quality of care

Because technology is constantly evolving, the interaction between health professionals and patients has as well.
Telemedicine is increasingly producing tools and services that are completely changing the traditional access of patients to medical care and expertise.

Althalia has developed and received approval from the public authorities for its on-line HD video doctor consultation service to expand the interaction and support capacities for patients benefiting from Althalia’s medical services. This offer allows Althalia’s members to see a Board-Certified Physician from Althalia’s medical team or from a medical team belonging to its network of specialists and hospitals at any time and to get medical advice from anywhere in the world (excluding medical emergencies). This service is now available on computers and tablets through an SAAS responsive connection, and the mobile application (IOS and Android) will be available to Althalia members as of September 1, 2017.

“We consider all telemedicine services, including video physician visits, as an important complementary tool that can improve patient–healthcare provider interactions. Physical interaction is extremely important in the care process and can not be replaced by any digital service. On the other hand, in some cases, being able to access a physician through the internet, whether a general practitioner or specialist, can improve patient experience and the quality of medical interactions in a significant way.”

Massimo di Cicilia, CEO of Althalia

The online visio medical consultation reinforces the link with
patients and the quality of information exchanged


At Althalia, the online video visit is not a “stand-alone”  service, i.e., simply “connecting” a doctor and a patient in a secure and confidential way via an internet connection.

Althalia, a medical care management company for the improvement of daily health and the optimization of the care path of its members, provides the possibility of storing and analyzing the medical dataset over a long period in order to follow a long-term care path. Thanks to the expertise of its certified physicians, Althalia now offers a suite of high added-value medical, prevention, and care services: second opinions, structured care pathways for chronic or complex diseases, preventive modules and care in France and internationally, conducted in several languages to the beneficiaries of Althalia’s client partners: company management and individual and collective health insurance brokers and insurers.

The integration of the online medical video visit service contributes to this optimization, which can offer medical advice in cases where physical access to a medical provider is difficult or impossible. The possibility to access our patients historical medical records helps our physicians to analyze the history of a pathology and allows them to offer a real and powerful complement in terms of follow-up and improvement of our patients’ situations.

When does Althalia use online HD physician consultation the most?

A response to the reduced number of care providers and / or long waiting times

In general, we could speak of a ‘medical desert’, words widely used to identify the low density of medical providers in a given territory.

Althalia considers that, in events where it is impossible to find a medical service provider near a patient’s home, it can still guarantee quality medical advice regarding the patient’s medical situation.

Health care infrastructures are mainly clustered around metropolitan areas, which is especially true for some specialties, such as pediatrics. Moreover, the policy of setting up large regional hospitals for the optimization of hospital operations has accentuated the problem of a patient residing a far distance from a medical center.

 

The historical situation of highly decentralized, multiple small-to-medium sized medical centers being located in several regions has evolved in the last few years into a major trend of large regional hospitals, which can be several tens of miles away (and in some cases hundreds) from some town. For a not insignificant number of families, simply visiting a doctor is a financial and logistical hurdle. The organization of transportation depends on factors such as weather and traffic, and the cost of travel is increased for families who must drive an hour or more to receive care.

 

We even find the same situation in localities that can not be traditionally defined as medical deserts. Some doctors are present in these areas, but there is still a lack or shortage of certain specialties in these regions. Finding an ophthalmologist or neurologist specializing in the pathologies of the loss of smell, for example, is a real problem for some patients, and only a handful of specialists are even working on the issue. These specialists are strongly solicited, with waiting times of several months for a first appointment, which is irreconcilable with the medical situation of some patients.

Temporary or permanent international mobility – expatriation

Imagine going on a trip with your family for 15 days to the beautiful islands in the archipelago of Japan. You are being treated for a chronic illness, and, when you arrive there, you see that your medical situation is beginning to worsen. You have two solutions: to find a medical provider to consult through the concierge of your hotel or to call one of the assistance companies of your credit cards. Being able to connect with a doctor from your country who already has knowledge of your historical situation thanks to your accessible medical record will probably be better able to advise you on what to do.

Explaining the history of one’s medical situation and give an exact account of one’s symptomatology in a foreign language that is probably not well mastered by the patient himself and / or by the medical provider in a foreign country is not simple when one has not mastered the local language !!!

The situation becomes even more trying when you are in a country with a culture completely different from your own: different language, behavior, and references make expatriation very difficult. In the event of pre-existing medical problems, not only in your personal situation but in your family, the situation can become even more difficult, without the certainty of continuity of quality care in the locality of expatriation. Online HD visio medical visits with quality health providers in your native language can make the situation easier and increase the quality of care significantly.

Follow-up consultations for chronic illness and / or long-term illness

In the case of a routine follow-up visit for a chronic or long-term illness already under treatment and followed by a doctor in the home country, a visio online visit saves time and travel costs

Foreign patients traveling or residing in Europe, with limited or no knowledge of the French language

Do you have any idea how many doctors speak Japanese in Europe? The visio medical visit can also be made available between a French doctor from France and French patient visiting Japan, and the opposite is also true.

 

Medical prescription

Althalia’s doctors and its partnering hospital physicians can issue a prescription during the online visit if they deem it necessary and if they have obtained sufficient information about the patient.

Some medications or prescriptions—morphine prescriptions, speech therapy, orthopedic insoles, physiotherapy, work stoppage—are excluded, and the physician in charge will inform the patient of what the physician can or can not do.

In all cases, the following kinds of prescriptions are explicitly excluded:

  • Medicinal products subject to restricted prescription,
  • Medicinal products subject to prior agreement,
  • Medicines with an Exception Status,
  • Prescription of narcotics.

 

 

Stronger relationship of trust by ensuring continuity of care


The relationship of trust between a patient and his doctors is fundamental. Online HD visio visits can allow continuity in the relationship, free of distance.

The first ones to praise Althalia's online visio visit services were doctors themselves, calling this service a powerful tool that enables an extension of their practices and care possibilities and makes them more present and available to their patients.

For the healthcare system in general, this service opens new horizons allowing, thanks to high-speed Internet or a mobile connection, the ability to provide quality care to patients that they could not otherwise treat.

A technological platform available to health professionals


We provide our medical technology and know-how in telemedicine to all of our medical providers or to the hospital partners belonging to our network. The hospitals and practitioners who belong to the Althalia world can use this technology to better care, interact, and inform our members and patients.

Security and confidentiality: authorization and regulatory compliance


Tele-health activities in France (and, in extension, in Europe) are highly regulated.

An online HD visio medical visit involves a two-way digital collection and communication of sensitive health information between providers and patients. Althalia uses computer tools and operates in a highly protected environment.

Due to the very sensitive information stored on our servers—data such as patient profiles, health records, treatment plans, medical reports and exams, among other things—our telemedicine technology is configured in a highly encrypted network that has achieved regulatory compliance from the French state, specifically the ASIP and CNIL security agencies.

Althalia has signed a telemedicine contract with the Regional Health Agency (RHA), in accordance with legislation. To be able to contract with the RHA, Althalia has given full transparency and commitment to the quality of all patient communication activities, their medical management, and the typology of relations with physicians and providers. The seal of the RHA, the national body responsible for the quality and regulation of services and healthcare providers, is a trademark of high-performing tele-health providers who believe in and practice safe and quality care.

Althalia is committed, alongside the RHA, to:

  • Enabling safe access to high-quality health services while reducing their costs and improving patient quality;
  • Therapeutic education of patients and their caregivers through the increased availability of health providers to enable knowledge sharing, which gives patients the opportunity to fully understand therapeutic options and participate actively in their own care;
  • Using evidence-based practices and ethical professional standards;
  • Designing strategies to ensure compliance with the highest standards of Althalia’s activities, promoting ethical behavior and regulatory compliance, managing risks, and reducing errors and omissions;
  • Monitoring, measuring, and reporting on established performance and quality indicators;
  • Communicating with care teams to promote continuity in care;
  • Protecting patients with data integrity, confidentiality, and security guarantees in the exchange, storage, and processing of information.