Dr Vikram Palit is a paediatric doctor and the founder of Consultmed, a digital referral platform that’s shaking up the system of paper referrals in the healthcare system. He writes for Startup Daily about his mission to axe the fax.
In the time of COVID-19, we have seen a transformation in the way healthcare is delivered in Australia. The rapid adoption of telehealth services has given rise to an entire generation of clinicians – some who are still carrying pagers – to use technology to better engage and treat their patients.
The idea behind Consultmed comes from my own experiences working as a clinician. In the majority of hospitals in Australia, referrals are still received via fax, post or occasionally are hand-delivered on the day of appointment. The referral itself is usually just a piece of paper and is often missing useful clinical information such as pathology results or imaging or consent.
These paper-based processes can be incredibly time-consuming, inefficient and often result in specialists ordering unnecessary and repeat investigations. For patients, particularly with urgent conditions, long referral-to-treatment times can lead to delayed care and poor outcomes.
For healthcare providers, there is the added risk of losing, misplacing or not tracking their paper referrals. Recently, a GP in Canberra who failed to follow-up on a surgical referral sent to a local hospital was found to be negligent and ordered to pay $184,640 in damages.
In response, we have assembled a team of senior clinicians, technical experts and business advisors to create and deploy a digital referral platform directly into hospitals, clinics and GP practices. Our platform allows secure exchange of information between healthcare providers, tracking of referrals, remote expert opinion services and on-the-spot appointment scheduling.
In the midst of a pandemic and within just a few months, our team completed development of an enterprise-grade solution and in March 2021 launched Consultmed straight into Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN), the largest paediatric health service in Australia. Our pilot at SCHN has already demonstrated immediate and measurable benefits to patients and healthcare providers alike and laid the foundation for expansion to neighbouring hospitals and specialist clinics.
In NSW, the Consultmed platform is currently live at six hospital sites, 14 specialist clinics and used daily to send and receive referrals by hundreds of GPs, specialists and administrators.
The Consultmed team have shown that clinical experience and credibility, matched with deep technical expertise and agile ways of working, can innovate in an industry that is simply not resourced or equipped to solve for these challenges.
The market potential here is significant, with referrals being the gateway to accessing broader specialist, allied health and medical consult services in Australia and comparable countries.
It is time to finally axe the fax.
Consultmed was the winner of Startup Daily and Microsoft’s inaugural 2021 Pitch Perfect competition, winning more than $200,000 worth of Microsoft Azure cloud credits, plus a marketing and promotion package. If you’d like to catch up on the event, you can rewatch Pitch Perfect here.