Coronavirus: Implementing Video Consultations in 24hrs

video consultations

Professional bodies for Ophthalmologists and Optometrists all over the World are recommending triage using video consultation tools in order to reduce the spread of Coronavirus.  Hospital eye departments have generally cancelled all elective non-urgent procedures and are only treating Emergencies (where there is a pathology that may result in life-changing vision loss).

Offering video consultations for triage doesn’t just protect patients but also clinicians and key staff.  There are some very good paid video consulting tools in the market, however, I wanted to share how with the expertise of OPTIMED’s web developers I was able to go from not prepared to ready in 24 hrs with apps that are totally free.  Here’s my short story and how we did it.

video chat apps

Video Apps

There’s absolutely no shortage of video apps.  Facebook Messenger, Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts, Viber, WeChat…

The issues are three-fold.  Firstly, you should consider which of apps are most popular in your country.  Remember your patients must have the same app on their phone to be able to video chat with you.  The second issue is one of security, is the app end-to-end encrypted?  The final issue is one which was problematic for me, that is confidentiality of my personal details.  I do not want my personal mobile number or personal details being issued to the patient.  That is where most of these apps let you down – unless they have a business version of the app.  Considering all three factors, I came to the conclusion WhatsApp Business was the best solution.

Video Apps

There’s absolutely no shortage of video apps.  Facebook Messenger, Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts, Viber, WeChat…

The issues are three-fold.  Firstly, you should consider which of apps are most popular in your country?  Remember your patients must have the same app on their phone to be able to video chat with you.  The second issue is one of security, is the app end-to-end encrypted?  The final issue is one which was problematic for me, that is confidentiality of my personal details.  I do not want my personal mobile number or personal details being issued to the patient.  That is where most of these apps let you down unless they have a business version of the app.  Considering all three factors, I came to the conclusion WhatsApp Business was the best solution.

video chat apps

WhatsApp Business

Many people are not aware of WhatsApp Business.  It associates a WhatsApp account with a business telephone and offers all the security of WhatsApp and is free.  The key benefit for me was the fact that it is official and branded specifically to my practice without disclosing my mobile phone.

WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business look similar and their user interface is pretty much the same.  You can download WhatsApp Business from the Google Playstore and on the AppStore.  Once downloaded, WhatsApp Business will then ask which number you want to use to validate.  Here, you should enter your business landline number – not your mobile.  WhatsApp will then call this number and provide a 6-digit code which you enter into your WhatsApp Business app on your phone.

What I really like about WhatsApp Business is that you create a professional business feel to an app that most consumers are using regularly.  Customisations can be made when you add a business description, website address, physical address and opening times.

Take a look at the site by clicking here

The Most Important Part…

Ok, so now you have a video calling app, but how do patients request a consultation?  WhatsApp Business provides a ‘link’ to the app on your specific mobile.  You simply need to display this link on your website so patients can intiate a chat, you can then switch to a video consultation.

I got the OPTIMED web development team to add a new web page to my existing website.  The web page has a smart slider at the top which cleverly works on all devices.  The OPTIMED Team covered 2 scenarios as to how a patient may initiate a video consultation through a page on my website.

  1. A patient may be browsing my website on a PC, they need to somehow get connected to WhatsApp from the website to their phone.
  2. A patient may be browsing on their phone and should be able to request a video consultation from the website to the WhatsApp app on their phone.

OPTIMED added a smart slider that automatically recognises the device it is displayed on.  So when a patient views the website on a PC, they can point their smart phone to the QR code, this automatically opens WhatsApp on their phone and pre-fills a message ‘I’d like to request a video consultation’.    If the patient is viewing the web page on their phone, the smart slider displays a button which again opens up WhatsApp.

The Most Important Part…

Ok, so now you have a video calling app, but how do patients request a consultation?  WhatsApp Business provides a ‘link’ to the app on your specific mobile.  You simply need to display this link on your website so patients can intiate a chat, you can then switch to a video consultation.

I got the OPTIMED web development team to add a new web page to my existing website.  The web page has a smart slider at the top which cleverly works on all devices.  The OPTIMED Team covered 2 scenarios as to how a patient may initiate a video consultation through a page on my website.

  1. A patient may be browsing my website on a PC, they need to somehow get connected to WhatsApp from the website to their phone.
  2. A patient may be browsing on their phone and should be able to request a video consultation from the website to the WhatsApp app on their phone.

OPTIMED added a smart slider that automatically recognises the device it is displayed on.  So when a patient views the website on a PC, they can point their smart phone to the QR code, this automatically opens WhatsApp on their phone and pre-fills a message ‘I’d like to request a video consultation’.    If the patient is viewing the web page on their phone, the smart slider displays a button which again opens up WhatsApp.

Take a look at the site by clicking here

Video Consultation Tips

  1. Make sure the patient is in a well lit room
  2. Speak clearly
  3. As with any patient consultation, accurate record keeping is essential.  I tend to dial into our practice PCs through a remote desktop tool and write-up directly into our EMR (electronic medical record) software
  4. Use the CAPTIV8 Share app, I find it particularly useful for video and face-to-face consultations.  It will speed up consults and keep verbal discussions to a minimum (important to reduce spread of infection).
CAPTIV8 Share

Video Consultation Tips

  1. Make sure the patient is in a well lit room
  2. Speak clearly
  3. As with any patient consultation, accurate record keeping is essential.  I tend to dial into our practice PCs through a remote desktop tool and write-up directly into our EMR (electronic medical record) software
  4. Use the CAPTIV8 Share app,  I find it particularly useful for video and face-to-face consultations.  It will speed up consults and keep verbal discussions to a minimum (important to reduce spread of infection).
CAPTIV8 Share

You can either ask your web developer to build this functionality or you could ask OPTIMED to log into your website and build this page for you.  If you have a WordPress or Wix site the cost is £299 as a one-off fixed fee.  If you’re interested please get in touch by calling +44 2476 444118 or email info@optimed.co.uk.