120 minutes. Remember that. It will be important later.
In 2020, we’ve pushed the limits of what we can accomplish virtually as a global society. It takes milliseconds to send a text. Minutes to order a car. An hour to receive groceries. While the pandemic might make the world feel on hold, never before have humans had to wait less, than right now.
But for some industries, such as healthcare, digital adoption is slower. In fact, up until just two years ago telehealth medicine wasn’t just unreliable or unavailable, but banned entirely in Germany.
TeleClinic, a German healthtech startup, has been waiting a long time for this to change. And with the change in late 2019 within the Berufsordnung, the professional code of conduct for practicing doctors, the wait is finally over. German doctors can now consult their patients virtually while offering health advice and writing digital prescriptions. And TeleClinic, the leading on-demand platform for online doctor visits in Germany, is helping make it all happen.
Here’s how they use Twilio technology to redefine the digital waiting room to help patients meet doctors quickly, virtually, and privately.
TeleClinic is an app born out of the idea of accessible, flexible, quality healthcare. TeleClinic founder Katharina Jünger, herself from a family of doctors, wanted to share with her country the accessibility she enjoyed.
“In my family of physicians, I can talk to a good doctor anytime and anywhere and this is also the mission for TeleClinic, so to speak,” she said. “That a patient can access a qualified doctor at any time of day who can then advise them fully on their medical questions and who can also send digital prescriptions and sick notes directly to their mobile phone.”
Patients are just one part of TeleClinic’s clientele. They also serve the doctors, pharmacies, and health insurance companies who partner with their platform to help serve those patients virtually.
Dominic Phillips, CTO at TeleClinic, is responsible for making sure all parties find the platform technology seamless regardless of where they fall in the Telehealth process.
And with COVID-19, the need for seamless virtual care—and thus TeleClinic’s services—have ballooned.
“There is a huge demand right now for our services as COVID-19 has certainly helped to raise awareness about telemedicine,” he said.
For both providers and patients, using the TeleClinic platform has become an integral part of Germany’s digital healthcare advancement during the pandemic and beyond; advances that have been a long time coming.
With more than 83 million people, Germany has the largest healthcare system in Europe. Despite this, their digital healthcare system has been non-existent until mid-2018. Not only was telehealth virtually unavailable, but when the ban was lifted in 2018, it also wasn’t included in healthcare coverage—meaning a German wanting access to telehealth services would have to pay for it themselves. Fortunately, with new rules and regulations, TeleClinic patients as well as all Germans, have access to free digital doctor appointments as of May 2020.
Alongside these nationwide technology bans, TeleClinic also found itself ahead of the video technology capabilities available. They needed a video solutions partner that allowed them to build off limited, underdeveloped systems.
“When we looked at what solutions were available, there were only one or two possibilities, but the argument in favor of Twilio was the platform flexibility,” Jünger said. “The other video providers require less configuration at first glance, but are also much less flexible [than Twilio] when it comes to their own programming and embedding in their own platform.”
TeleClinic made a long-term technology decision aligned to where they hoped telehealth in Germany would eventually go. They chose a partner that gave them the ability to build into the future. They chose Twilio.
“There were already some providers who offer video consultation hours as software. But the reason why we chose Twilio as our video API provider is because we want to control the experience and quality ourselves and provide the best doctor consultation online. We wouldn't have this flexibility if we had just bought any video software,” Phillips said.
...the reason why we chose Twilio as our video API provider is because we want to control the experience and quality ourselves and provide the best doctor consultation online.
Starting with telephony and then scaling up to video, TeleClinic registered several different numbers and got to work launching their app. They added in other Twilio services along the way, including programmable messaging, TaskRouter automation, and Webhooks.
Another major consideration? Privacy.
“In Germany, [security] is extremely important for our patients,” Phillips said. “Twilio has introduced things like end-to-end encryption in the last few years and now the new video technology with peer-to-peer or Web-RTC, where the packets are sent between the clients and nobody can listen in. We use the same technology in video and that is really a very strong added value for our privacy-conscious patients.”
While 2018’s permission for telemedicine was huge for business, TeleClinic has never been busier than with COVID-19.
“The main focus right now is that we acquire more doctors who offer an even better service for the patients,” Jünger said. “Our claim is really as an on-demand platform that you can talk to a doctor very quickly at any time.”
And on that subject of very quick appointments: ever signed on to your doctor’s healthcare portal and requested an appointment only to learn you couldn’t be seen for several weeks?
TeleClinic promises patients an appointment with a doctor as fast as possible, in anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.
Two hours. Just 120 minutes from appointment request to video call. Same day service. Doctors on demand.
With TeleClinic, Germany’s wait for virtual healthcare is officially over.