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Medicross patients offered video consultation services

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Family medical and dental centres network Medicross has introduced Netcare VirtualCare, a secure platform for video doctor consultations, implemented within the Netcare Group medical centres nationwide.

Developed by IT firm A2D24, the new Web application has been deployed across 50 Medicross centres to provide a safe option to connect patients to healthcare specialists in real-time, minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19, by eliminating face-to-face consultations.

Medicross, which started piloting the video-conferencing solution in May, offers a range of private primary medical, dental and complementary healthcare services through its network of family medical and dental centres, located across eight provinces in SA.

The network of medical clinics is owned by private healthcare provider Netcare Group.

Globally, telemedicine has proved invaluable in the management of the deadly virus, with many governments and healthcare systems advocating digital healthcare tools and virtual consults as the primary means of healthcare support during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dr Richard Friedland, CEO of the Netcare Group, says technology is increasingly driving innovations in healthcare.

“We are pleased to be part of that trend in implementing a bespoke platform for virtual consultations as part of our strategic aim of ‘providing patients with the best and safest health and care, digitally-enabled and data-driven’.

“Netcare VirtualCare is enabling patients and doctors to maintain contact without physical interaction. Virtual doctor consultations can take the form of either video consultations via mobile devices or computers, or telephone consultations via a mobile phone or landline, both from the comfort and convenience of the patient’s home,” notes Friedland.

In the last few months, the healthcare sector across the globe has seen a significant shift in moving healthcare from the doctor's office to the patient’s home, with the rapid increase in video-conferencing solutions. In SA, pharmaceutical firms Clicks and MediRite group are among local clinics that have implemented video-conferencing solutions nationwide.

The South African-developed Signapps telemedicine platform is also digitising SA’s private and public hospitals, through the rollout of its video-conferencing and communication platform across various healthcare facilities, including Charlotte Maxeke, Johannesburg General Academic Hospital, Life Healthcare, Chris Hani Baragwanath, Red Cross Children’s Hospital and Edendale Hospital.

Medicross says using the VirtualCare platform does not require a mobile app to be downloaded and it also provides a dial-in function for individuals who do not have Internet connectivity.

Appointments for virtual consultations with Medicross doctors can be made in the same way as traditional appointments – either through the online booking system available on the Medicross Web site, by phoning the medical practice, or through Netcare Appointmed, which is the Netcare Group’s medical appointment service.

Upon receiving confirmation of their appointment via e-mail and SMS, patients are provided with a link to access their virtual consultation with a medical practitioner.

“The Netcare VirtualCare platform is accessed through modern Web browsers such as Google Chrome for Android, Windows and MacOS devices, or Apple Safari for iOS on a computer or mobile device, connecting the patient and the doctor in a private and secure online consultation ‘room’, as if they were sitting on opposite sides of the doctor’s desk as usual,” says Travis Dewing, CIO of Netcare.

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