safeguarding patients and their data.

Primary Source Verification provider, TrueProfile.io warns that patient safety and privacy should be at the heart of telemedicine.

The industry of virtual health appointments, otherwise known as telemedicine, is booming as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with rapid technological advancements comes potential risks warns TrueProfile.io, a leading provider of Primary Source Verification (PSV) services, which outlines that providers must ensure they put patient safety first by ensuring they hire verified medical professionals.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, GP surgeries urged patients not to come into their practice to prevent the potential spread of the virus and health secretary Matt Hancock advised that consultations should be done by telemedicine where possible. Since then, there’s been a dramatic increase in the use of telemedicine, with a Forrester report indicating that virtual care visits will reach 20 million this year[1].

Alejandro Coca, co-head of TrueProfile.io says, “With the virus only getting worse currently, the start of a second national lockdown and with the increase we’ve already seen in telemedicine, it’s an approach to primary care that is here to stay.

“The pandemic has caused a more widespread acceptance of technology from a broader segment of society – from people increasing their online spending and working remotely to becoming more familiar with various video platforms and accepting more digital payment methods. Even technophobes have been embracing technologies, new systems and processes. It’s therefore clear to see that telemedicine will only increase over the coming years.

“However, as with any advancement in technology, it’s important that safety and privacy concerns are abated.”

Alejandro outlines that it’s critical for healthcare professionals to be properly vetted before allowing them to practice on a telemedicine platform, “While the NHS has outlined long term plans to allow every patient in the UK access to digital GP consultations, this is not a reality yet and so there are a whole host of new providers offering virtual health services which need to quickly scale in order to meet patient demand. They are therefore recruiting aggressively, which has the potential to be great for patients, who will be able to get access to a doctor’s appointment instantly as a result. However, this is only great if patient care is kept front of mind too.

“Telemedicine providers must ensure they source verified, credible healthcare professionals to be assured of their skills and qualifications. Verification is an important step in the healthcare process as it is, but in a physical environment, once a healthcare professional is hired, they typically are then further assessed by their peers, who evaluate their abilities. The very nature of virtual healthcare makes this process difficult, meaning it’s even more important to ensure thorough skills and qualification verification. Only through this can providers ensure they offer patients the best services in an increasingly competitive marketplace, while also keeping them protected.”

Alongside patient safety, there is also a concern over patient privacy and because telemedicine is much more than simply a video call, providers should also be placing data protection at the top of their agendas.

Alejandro adds, “Telemedicine services allow patients and doctors to share and store sensitive information such as test results and x-rays, so it’s imperative that the right technology is in place to ensure these records are protected. This is where the use of blockchain should be implemented – a technology that enables decentralised storage of data so that no central party has control over its content, and nobody can tamper with the records because every member has to agree to its validity and can check the history of record changes.”

Alejandro concludes, “With telemedicine increasing at a rapid pace, providers must ensure they scale responsibly, putting patient safety first in order to maintain a reliable service and therefore gain competitive advantage.”

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