How Physician Attendant helps doctors improve patient care with Google Cloud Platform

Despite all the money spent on healthcare, one basic component is sometimes lacking — good communication. Frequently, there is no easy way for staff physicians, nurses, clinicians, referring doctors and others to coordinate hospital care and share medical advice and information quickly.

That’s the problem the medical technology company Tido wanted to solve. Healthcare providers sometimes use insecure messaging when there’s no secure option available because messaging is more efficient than calling or paging. It recognized that hospitals struggle to keep physicians up to date with not only communications about patient care but also news and announcements because traditional methods like meetings, emails and pagers aren't efficient.

So the company set out to build an effective, secure and reliable way for healthcare providers to communicate in real time in order to improve patient care and increase providers’ productivity. To do that, it needed a highly secure cloud platform that offered scalable storage and was compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which governs the privacy of medical records.

“Google Cloud Platform support for regulatory compliance and security as well as its scalability and integration with other services made it the right choice for us.”

— Vik Patel, Chief Operating Officer, Tido

Coordinating better patient care

Tido chose Google Cloud Platform as the storage foundation for its communications solution because GCP offers the most cost-effective and sophisticated features for operating in the highly regulated healthcare industry. Using GCP, Tido built Physician Attendant, a secure app for healthcare providers to communicate on mobile devices using one-on-one and group messaging, system-wide alerts, image- and video-sharing, quick access to medical information and more. The app also enables medical professionals to securely send photos and videos and share them. In addition to communications around patient data, the app can be used to send push notifications with non-urgent but useful information such as newsletters and organizational updates.

Physician Attendant screenshot

Physician Attendant leverages Google Cloud Storage to securely store every piece of content that is shared via the app. This includes photos, videos and other patient-related files. Through Google Cloud Storage HIPAA-compliance, healthcare professionals using the app are assured that any file shared through Physician Attendant is stored in accordance with mandatory HIPAA regulations. The Google Cloud Platform Business Associates Agreement (BAA) that supports HIPAA covered customers is included with Google Cloud Storage at no additional charge, which helps keep costs low for end customers.

Firebase Authentication allows Physician Attendant users to easily log into the system using an existing Google Gmail email address and password. This improves ease of use of the app, letting doctors and other healthcare professionals log into the system without creating and memorizing a separate username and password. All messaging and notifications in the app are secured using the PubNub HIPAA compliant Data Stream Network (DSN).

With Physician Attendant, healthcare professionals can better coordinate their work and collaborate on patient care. For example, if a doctor’s patient is admitted to an emergency room, a message is sent to the doctor notifying her about the admission, including the results of medical tests. When a patient is discharged, the discharge summary is sent to the doctor. The app also helps health organizations and staff physicians build stronger relationships with referring physicians.

Physician Attendant is currently in pilot programs at two hospitals, including Hardin Memorial Health, a 300-bed healthcare facility in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Improving real time provider communication, care-coordination in the community, and improving relationship with staff providers and affiliated providers are the main goals of the pilot.

“Physician Attendant is transforming the way we communicate and collaborate about patient care in real time. The ability to securely send and receive information when and where I need it from the convenience of my mobile device makes it easier to focus on my patient’s needs.”

— Jody Prather, M.D., CMO, Hardin Memorial Health Medical Group.

“Google Cloud Storage is at the heart of the integrated solution that enables Physician Attendant to deliver securely controlled, peer-to-peer communications capabilities to customers like Hardin Memorial Health,” says Patel.

Cutting costs, reducing hospital readmissions

Using Physician Attendant, healthcare organizations have the opportunity to reduce healthcare facility costs, improve patient care, cut readmission rates and let hospitals focus on patient outcomes. Reducing readmissions can save hospitals millions of dollars a year, because they are penalized when rates are above government-mandated levels. Since hospitals do not have to handle their messaging infrastructure, they can potentially cut their personnel costs by a half a million dollars per year, in addition to hardware savings, says Patel.

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