Telehealth solution with automated transcription using AWS AI services
NorthBay Healthcare is a Solano County-based, locally managed, and nonprofit healthcare provider. They provide a wide range of healthcare services in their two hospitals – NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield and NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville. From oncology to open-heart surgery, and from birth through the end of life, NorthBay Healthcare has teams of medical experts ready to provide care.
NorthBay wanted to offer a virtual care program for patients with common, acute symptoms requiring rapid triage and management but who had trouble fitting into their provider’s schedules. Over the years, they learned that for certain common and irritating symptoms, seeing one’s provider in the office is often less important than obtaining a speedy and reliable answer. Like many healthcare providers, NorthBay was actively preparing for the era of virtual care in order to best meet their patients’ needs. In spite of the internal initiatives, virtual care at NorthBay remained more of a future vision than a daily reality.
In February 2020, CDC issued guidance advising persons and health care providers in areas affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic to adopt social distancing practices, specifically recommending that health care facilities and providers offer clinical services through virtual means such as telehealth. There were few things that were preventing NorthBay from adopting Telehealth solutions in the past.
- The perception that telehealth is less effective than in-person care. However, recent policy changes during the COVID-19 pandemic have reduced barriers to telehealth access and have promoted the use of telehealth as a way to deliver acute, chronic, primary, and specialty care.
- Healthcare is a highly regulated industry so there is a number of compliance and regulations requirements around telehealth. While some health insurance companies, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, may cover or reimburse telehealth visits, telehealth coverage laws vary between states. There is a steep learning curve when it comes to developing software applications, storing and managing patient data.
- Lack of in-house skills to develop telehealth solution that is secure, scalable, compliant, cost-effective and integrates with their other applications.
Avahi worked with NorthBay to release a telehealth solution using a two-phase approach.
Develop a standalone solution that will connect providers to patients using real-time telephone or live audio-video interaction typically with a patient using a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Avahi used the AWS platform to develop this solution and the MVP was turned around in 6 weeks that included the following features:
- Start video visit with provider using mobile and web application. Amazon Chime was used for real-time audio and video interaction.
- Record the video session and create a transcript of the conversation. Video sessions are stored on AWS cloud storage and will be archived after 90 days. The transcripts are stored in a database and are always accessible and searchable.
In phase 2 of this project, Avahi integrated the telehealth system with NorthBay’s appointment scheduling and billing system. Avahi developed the APIs that were exposed to teams that owned these systems. Avahi developed these APIs using serverless architecture to keep the cost low and make it scalable as the telehealth visits ramp up.