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Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa Delivering Telehealth Services on IBM Cloud

Patients can now schedule appointments and receive remote medical care through a mobile teleconsultation solution

IBM and Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML), a Portuguese institution of public utility recognized for its social, health and education work in the community, announced they have worked together with IBM Garage and IBM Services to develop a teleconsultation solution running on IBM public cloud. The solution was designed to help people prioritize their health during the COVID-19 pandemic. IBM helped SCML develop a platform running on IBM public cloud that allows their patients to schedule and access teleconsultation services and remote medical care directly on their mobile phones. In addition to helping patients stay up-to-date with regular medical checkups, the platform is designed to reduce the need for patients to travel to a medical office or hospital and therefore, can help patients reduce exposure to COVID-19 when seeking medical care.

The platform is designed so that patients can easily communicate with their medical providers and psychologists to get the assistance they need, quickly and from home. After the medical appointment is requested, the patient receives a notification by email or SMS with date and time information and the access link. Using a smartphone, the patient has to click on the link to start the teleconsultation. To date, SCML patients have used the platform to schedule nearly 300 medical appointments.

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For medical providers, the platform will enable them to initiate sessions through a phone call, video call or chat. Data and content only visible to the participants for the duration of the call, can build confidence for patients that their files are exchanged in a security rich, managed environment. Additionally, once the video call begins, it is kept between the doctor and patient without any third-party service or entity involved.

The IBM public cloud is the industry’s most secure and open cloud for business, offering its  commercially-available state-of-art cryptographic technology for the cloud called “Keep Your Own Key.”1 This gives enterprises the ability to retain control of their own encryption keys — and the hardware security modules that protect them — so customers are the only ones who can control access to their data. For clients in regulated industries like SCML, this need to protect client data is critical.

Working together with a group of IBMers from the IBM Garage and IBM Services teams, SCML was able to develop this teleconsultation solution specifically tailored to its needs. As part of IBM’s commitment to help organizations tap into the power of our many services and applications so they can maintain productivity in remote work environments during COVID, SCML was able to access a set of IBM services via the IBM public cloud at no cost for three months.

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Since most of SCML’s patients will access the platform from a smartphone, the first adaption was to move from a computer-based telehealth solution that needed an email address for ID validation, to a solution that could be used on a mobile phone through SMS, audio calls and/or video calls.

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Running on IBM public cloud, the solution benefits from various features and functionalities supported by a robust containerized platform, able to scale according to demand. Additional foundational services were used for solution monitoring, access logging and user authentication.

This solution assumes even more relevance as traditional methods have to be adapted as the world fights against COVID-19.  Portugal continues to face hundreds of new confirmed cases per day in the fall of 2020, mainly in the Metropolitan Area of Lisboa affirming this importance.

Francisco Pessoa e Costa, Digital Transformation Manager of Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa adds, “We expect that this project will have great impact providing health care services in this pandemic period, especially among elderly, vulnerable and disadvantaged populations that we serve. In the middle of the pandemic situation in which we are living and all the instability and uncertainty that it brings, we are trying to do the best we can to protect those who need us. The entire SCML team is very proud and deeply involved in making this project a success and expanding its use among our users.”

“Challenges such as reimagining traditional operations during the COVID-19 pandemic give us an opportunity to apply cloud technology to make a real difference where it matters the most,” said Gonçalo Costa Andrade, Enterprise Sales Manager, IBM Portugal. “This platform we helped build with SCML will enable its users to securely and conveniently access important medical, nutrition and psychology services.”

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