Digimed: transforming the delivery of health services

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 December, 2023 at 3:02 pm by Andre Camilleri

Technology has permeated every facet of our lives, and the healthcare sector is no different. From enhancing patient care to expanding access to vast amounts of data, the influence of technology on healthcare is substantial.  At its heart, individuals increasingly seek convenience, a demand which remains a significant challenge in the healthcare sector.

This evolving need was the underlying trigger that brought about Digimed, a project intended to create a digital ecosystem where doctors, pharmacists and patients can gain access to a shared ecosystem of healthcare apps.

The brainchild of three entrepreneurs Keith Laferla, Jessica Polidano and Jean Claude Muscat, Digimed seeks to offer a platform where patients can enjoy a direct link to their healthcare professionals and access advice, their medical history, and e-Prescriptions at any time, from wherever they are.

“If you have a health issue, immediate access to a doctor as well as your medical records becomes crucial. Ideally, your doctor should have access to your medical history, and this is the essence of Digimed. It’s a groundbreaking initiative allowing the general public access to their health records outside of the national health systems at any given time—an essential yet surprisingly unavailable aspect in today’s digital era,” Keith Laferla explains.

Mr Laferla, who is Joint Managing Director at Laferla Insurance, explains that the solution will be available on a range of devices like smartphones, tablets, and web applications, empowering users with control over their healthcare. “Unlike conventional healthcare apps, Digimed goes beyond a singular application, establishing a comprehensive ecosystem that brings together the three major healthcare stakeholders: practitioners, patients, and pharmacists”, he explains.

The voluntary registration process underscores the platform’s dedication to user independence, enabling individuals to proactively manage their health path. The team behind this innovative solution are very much aware that its success hinges on establishing a high degree of trust among its different users.

“Trust is paramount. We’ve addressed health data ownership and security rigorously, establishing a system that safeguards patient data. This builds trust among users, guaranteeing complete confidentiality. Notably, the platform’s architecture prohibits alterations to health records while allowing doctors to append additional notes, thereby upholding data integrity,” adds James Muscat, CEO and Director at St James’ Hospital Group.

In building this innovative product, the team, which is working together independently of their role within their respective organisations, counts on the experience of one of Malta’s brightest minds in field. Jessica Polidano brings with her a wealth of experience in data structure and data procession, as Managing Director of a leading local company in the Event Accreditation industry. She explains how the innovative element of this new tool lies in its three distinct applications, each catering to a specific stakeholder in the healthcare journey. “For healthcare professionals, the platform provides a multifaceted tool that enables video, voice and text consultations, allowing doctors to seamlessly integrate digital interactions into their practice. Having said this, Digimed was not only designed to be used to facilitate and record virtual consultations but also to record in-person consultations”, she adds.

With such facility of use, it is of no surprise that the tool has already received the strong backing of various medical professionals and associations in Malta. Indeed, medical professionals have already begun to use Digimed as their ‘EPR’ or Electronic Patient Record, saving electronic health records for any telemedicine or even in-person consultation, which will then be shared with their patients, and to complete digital medication prescriptions (or ‘e-Prescriptions’). Simultaneously, patients gain access to their own Digimed portal, ensuring that their medical information is not only portable but also dynamically updatable and therefore constantly accurate.

Medical professionals are also excited about the digitalisation of the insurance claims process of supporting health insurance providers, through Digimed, thus doing away with the traditional claim form that doctors usually need to complete.

Pharmacists will also have an independent, specific role within the Digimed ecosystem, enabling them to securely dispense prescriptions using a distinctive QR code or identifier which in turn does not allow an e-Prescription to be used more than once, thus enhancing control and minimising drug abuse.

Finally, but perhaps most importantly, this is a tool which puts the consumer or patient at the centre of the whole concept. In the post-pandemic world, people feel at ease carrying out business meetings, attending their children’s parents’ days or following their post-grad course lectures online, but have perhaps stopped short, so far, of utilising tech for their medical needs.

Digimed introduces an innovative telemedicine service, allowing patients to remotely engage with healthcare providers via video, voice, or text communication. This diverse range of channels facilitates seamless connections between patients and doctors, extending beyond virtual consultations to optimize in-person healthcare processes.

Patients have the option to select their preferred pharmacies for obtaining the medicines prescribed to them. The system initially checks the availability of required medications at these chosen pharmacies, enhancing efficiency for both patients and pharmacies.

Mr Laferla shares his belief that this solution is indeed the way to go for the future of healthcare insisting that Digimed’s greatest potential lies in the cultural shift that this ecosystem is bound to bring to the health and pharmaceutical sector by unifying stakeholders in the industry, fostering collaboration and synergy.

 “The convergence of technology and healthcare offers immense untapped opportunities, and Digimed stands poised not only as a service but as a transformative cultural influence, shaping the future of personalized healthcare experiences. To unlock the full potential of this endeavour, a cultural shift is needed from individuals who may still be entrenched in traditional approaches”, he concludes.

Digimed’s patient apps will be launching in January 2024 on web, iOS and Android. Visit digimed.health for more information.

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