Bulgarian companies members of the Digital Cluster offer alternatives that contribute to facilitate doctors’ work
At the height of the Covid-19 epidemic in China in January, a new way of communicating between doctors and patients was created, such as online reviews that eliminated the clusters of people in the doctors’ offices. This has helped significantly to limit the spread of coronavirus and is considered one of the biggest reforms in the health system that will remain in place.
Several Bulgarian companies, part of Digital Health and Innovation Cluster Bulgaria, are already offering telemedicine solutions. Their services are applicable both here and in other countries.
Quarantine with monitor
One example is Check Point Cardio, which produces a complete patient monitoring system. It consists of three components – a hardware device that is placed on a person’s body, software that digitizes measurement information and sends it via Bluetooth to a mobile application. Subsequently, the application sends data to the server in a cloud platform through which physicians can monitor patients’ condition. Monitors for individual use follow 8 vital signs in real time and can replace hospital equipment as well as monitor coronavirus status – measure heart rate, blood pressure, heart rate, blood saturation (blood saturation with oxygen) , breathing, body temperature and at what position and activity of the body these indicators occur. A smartphone is also included in the system, which transmits data in real time and gives the patient additional opportunity to call the doctor who monitors his condition in case of anxiety.
In the current epidemiological situation, monitors can be installed in a hospital and a monitoring center set up to limit contact with infected persons, but can also be used for home quarantine. “We have a certificate for hospital and non-hospital equipment and the good thing is that it can be easily serviced by non-specialists. If someone is ill, they will be monitored by the crisis center, but it is easily portable equipment (about 140 grams) and can for example allow patients to be resuscitated, “Ivaylo Dachov, a managing partner at CheckPoint, commented to Capital. Cardio. In a few days the decision will be made by the national crisis headquarters to introduce the product in Bulgaria as well, he explains. In such a situation, it is likely that a monitoring center will be set up in one of the hospitals, in which a large number of specialists will be able to monitor the patients’ condition.
So far, the company has launched the first crisis center for patients with coronavirus symptoms in Bucharest, where it has delivered several hundred units and is negotiating several thousand more. “Our observation is that every government plans to increase the number of infected and therefore order more devices.
In Romania, when we received the procurement, the cases of people quarantined were 600 – 700, for example. Given that the number of beds is limited, an outpatient treatment option should be found – maybe on campuses, or at home with milder symptoms.”, explains Ivaylo Dachov Currently, Check Point Cardio products are also available in Croatia, Italy, the Czech Republic and Greece. Now, ordering this type of technique is done through direct negotiation to ensure a faster response.
Chat with the doctor
In terms of primary diagnosis, the pandemic puts enormous pressure on doctors, specialists and emergency centers, who are overwhelmed and have difficulty answering phone calls, according to the DHI Cluster Bulgaria Alternatives should be considered in order to avoid clutter in the doctor’s office, as well as to provide a physician in a busy environment. Such solutions are offered by two Bulgarian companies – Healee and Consento.
“Through our platform, online consultations are ongoing between patients and physicians across the country. It can be downloaded to a mobile phone or tablet as well as a computer and can be used to obtain medical advice. It is also very useful for a check-up or when tracking research results. Vanya Choneva from Healee commented to Capital – “Currently, the number of registered physicians in the application from any type of specialty (more than 30) giving online consultations is small – about 500. Communication opportunities are three-chat, photo sharing (for example, dermatological problems) and video.
When someone requests a consultation, he or she indicates the urgency of when he or she wishes to receive a response, with the options for the doctor to respond within 16 or 48 hours. Doctors themselves determine the cost of a consultation, but it is usually less than or equal to a live examination. The standard price is in the range of 20 to 30 BGN, with the commission for the platform being 10% of all reviews. Healee covers bank fees (about 3%) and the remaining 7% usually goes for technical support of the platform or innovations. Billing is done through various types of online payments, and Choneva notes that sometimes the consultation can be free of charge. Due to the coronavirus in Bulgaria the number of consultations has increased by more than 10 times, during the online examination the patient can describe what symptoms he has and the doctor can decide whether to be tested for a coronavirus. Otherwise, the app itself has been in existence since 2018 and is being used outside Bulgaria as well, downloaded by over 25,000 users.
The new online hospitals
The other platform for online physician communication options is Consento.bg. The difference with Healee is that it manages the processes in healthcare setting, completely digitizing the patient’s path. In addition to being able to consult a doctor online, save hours for an online examination, create a patient’s electronic health record, and notifications for upcoming examinations are displayed. “We also offer phone consultations as part of our telemedicine services and we also have on-call doctors. We provide with an integrated telephone exchange for sharing medical information, in addition to doctor-patient communication, we also offer doctor-doctor”, Branimir Raduilov, who is the manager of the largest user of the platform at the moment – Bulgaria polyclinic, commented to Capital. The doctors receive up to 80% of the amount paid by the patient for consultation, the price range for which is between 10 and 30 BGN. The doctor on duty separately receives 10 BGN for a call, in most cases he answers immediately or within one hour. Using a calendar through which your doctor manages your monthly schedule costs up to $6 per month. According to Raduilov, it is likely that after the current crisis it will be used free of charge. The platform also offers subscription plans for physicians and patients.
Another option for Consento is the patient’s status diary to which physicians have access. They can write down how they feel during the day and if they have any health complaints. Thanks to this, doctors can decide whether to place a patient under quarantine, provided that he has written in his diary symptoms similar to those of coronavirus development. This also avoids crowding in front of doctors’ offices. Of course, in both platforms, medical professionals are verified.
“It is our great hope that the pandemic will enable authorities across Europe to understand that medicine needs to be digitized as quickly as possible and be accounted for as a separate medical activity so that more companies like ours can emerge. They will allow the process to be easy and transparent, as well as reduce government spending”, said Dochev from CheckPoint Cardio. According to Choneva, the fact that we can stop waste our time while waiting for an appointment, suggests that things may happen in the future.