INDUSTRY

Healthcare

HEADQUARTERS

London, UK

CHALLENGES
  • Low patient adoption due to app fatigue
  • Maximizing efficiency of healthcare workers
  • Reducing dependency on human agents

SOLUTIONS

  • Integration with WhatsApp to improve ease-of-use
  • Intelligent escalation and assignment rules
  • Chatbot to collect patient information
PRODUCTS USED
  • Freshdesk Messaging

Completed assessments

15,000+

Patient Engagement

90%

Per consultation

4 mins

About Doctaly

At the start of 2020, the UK along with the rest of the world came to grips with a public health crisis like no other. Over the course of the first and second waves, over 4.5 million UK patients were diagnosed with COVID-19. The public health infrastructure and NHS frontline professionals were overburdened as patient numbers began to exceed available resources. 

Doctaly emerged as an innovative Healthtech solution to ease the demand on healthcare workers. Through an advanced Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) system, Doctaly has helped thousands of patients receive quality medical attention - from the comfort of their own homes. We spoke to Phil Tyler, COO at Doctaly, to understand how their platform uses Freshworks’ Freshdesk Messaging to provide medical assistance that’s consistently timely, reliable, and convenient. 

Re-inventing the traditional doctor-patient consultation

With the huge number of patients testing positive for COVID-19 last year, frontline workers needed to prioritize high-risk cases. At the same time, however, patients who were experiencing COVID symptoms needed reliable guidance on how to manage their symptoms and access medical help if their condition became more serious. To solve this dual challenge, Doctaly developed a solution, Doctaly Assist, that relied on Freshdesk Messaging to enable remote consultation with patients. Speaking about the origins of Doctaly Assist, Phil says, “The idea was that moderately ill COVID patients could use our platform to have a clinical assessment at home. That information is passed on to the clinicians in what we’ve branded a ‘virtual ward’. Clinicians can then interact with patients, check they are okay, and direct them to extra help if necessary.”

Doctaly began to search for the perfect messaging solution to support their aims. As an organization, it had used Intercom and Twilio in the past, but when it came to Doctaly Assist, these solutions did not offer the breadth of capabilities needed. After a comprehensive evaluation of messaging solutions, Doctaly landed on Freshdesk Messaging as their preferred supplier. “At the top of our shopping list were WhatsApp integration and chatbot capabilities, which automatically narrowed the field” recalls Phil. “The fact that Freshdesk Messaging offered these features and had a customizable interface made it a clear winner. We were able to take Freshdesk Messaging’s seamless interface and fit it into our use case. This was not possible with other solutions we evaluated.”
 

Bringing the medical clinic to a patient’s smartphone

Integration with WhatsApp would soon play a key role in the success of Doctaly Assist. “The biggest challenge that we foresaw was patient adoption. You can have a fantastic product but that doesn’t mean anything if patients aren’t using it,” says Phil. Solving this challenge would mean steering away from the usual app-based approach. The way the team saw it, apps were part of the problem. There are about 400k healthcare apps available and app fatigue is becoming an increasingly common phenomenon. Rather than asking patients to install yet another app, Doctaly decided to leverage an app that was already on most users' home screens: WhatsApp. 

“WhatsApp integration has been a pivotal part of lowering the technology adoption hurdle. Today, around 85-90% of our consultations take place through WhatsApp!”

Phil Tyler

COO

Doctaly

Reducing consultation times by boosting efficiency

The second challenge Doctaly faced was adoption from the clinical side. To really make the platform worthwhile for healthcare workers, Doctaly needed to demonstrate high levels of efficiency. Freshdesk Messaging’s ease of use, advanced features and integration capabilities have been integral in helping bring down overall consultation times through a three-pronged approach:

  • Automated messaging: Freshdesk Messaging’s chatbot conducts an initial assessment of the patient’s condition before a clinician even gets involved. The chatbot takes the patient through a series of 20 questions designed to understand the severity of their symptoms and capture their medical history. That information is then seamlessly conveyed to a clinician who picks up the thread and gets straight to the consultation, saving a lot of time. 
  • Risk stratification: Doctaly Assist has set up delegation and escalation rules on Freshdesk Messaging that automatically categorize the patient based on the severity of their symptoms. A low-risk patient can be assigned to a senior nurse or paramedic, while high-risk patients are assigned to doctors. This ensures a doctor’s time is used most productively. If a doctor is concerned about a patient’s  responses, they can call them  and capture the details of the conversation on Freshdesk Messaging using the Private Notes feature. 
  • ‘Canned responses’: Doctaly Assist uses Freshdesk Messaging’s Canned Responses feature extensively to send template responses providing common instructions or advice. For example, patients can access guidance  on how to take their oxygen saturation reading without the doctor having to be on the call. Doctors can also send instructions on breathing exercises and other COVID management tips without having to manually type everything out each time. “This feature has been instrumental in bringing about that level of efficiency that we aimed for. There’s an infinite number of possibilities with the ability to package those up and make the chat consultation as quick as possible,” says Phil. 

“The increase in efficiency using this approach has been dramatic!. With minimal clinician intervention required, consultation time has gone down from 25 minutes to just 4 minutes”

Phil Tyler

COO

Doctaly

Delivering reliability during times of unpredictability

Unsurprisingly,  patient feedback on Doctaly Assist has been overwhelmingly positive. “If I had to select one word to encapsulate patient feedback, it would be: ‘reassuring’” notes Phil. “Patients are aware of how busy healthcare professionals are and therefore, they often decide to braven it out,  and only call A&E if things get really bad. So, to offer them a convenient service where they’ve got a doctor checking on them everyday has been immensely valuable. Patients enter their vitals with the  reassurance that if something is wrong it will be spotted.”

Clinicians and doctors have also really enjoyed this different approach to consulting. As Phil explains, “Doctaly Assist gives doctors a degree of flexibility - something that those of us in other sectors have enjoyed for a while. Now, doctors can  work at home, out of office hours, and fit it in around other commitments.” The popularity of Doctaly among healthcare professionals is self-evident. Clinical time in the UK is very hard to come by and the NHS often has multiple open positions for sessions or events. But Doctaly has, in fact, been oversubscribed! “Clinicians actually come in and volunteer to do more sessions!” says Phil. 

Doctaly’s role in optimising use of NHS resources at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic has been remarkable. Over the course of over 15,000 consultations, Doctaly has been able to successfully prevent countless unnecessary ambulance calls and trips to A&E. At the other end of the spectrum, timely interventions have also ensured that high-risk patients get to hospital quicker than they otherwise might have.

Looking ahead

Doctaly Assist was originally developed to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. With the number of COVID cases in the UK on the decline, what does the future now look like for Doctaly? “The model that we’ve worked on translates really well to the monitoring of chronic illnesses,” says Phil. “Doctors in the UK have to run annual programs to check in on patients with long-term conditions like diabetes, asthma, and COPD, which totals around 12-15 million patients. Because of COVID, doctors were only able to do half that number last year. Using Doctaly’s efficient approach, doctors can now conduct faster checkups on these patients and clear their backlogs much sooner.”

Doctaly’s mission to revolutionize the future of patient consultations is only just beginning. As the platform expands its capabilities, it will continue to be supported by Freshdesk Messaging to deliver an unmatched consultation experience for doctors and patients alike. 

“The asynchronous messaging and automation made possible by Freshdesk Messaging have helped us significantly improve clinician efficiency. During the pandemic, with thousands of patients and doctors incredibly overstretched, you can imagine how valuable that’s been.”

Phil Tyler

COO

Doctaly