An Australian company is leading the way in innovating, by taking healthcare online and aiming to improve patient-clinician consultations with telehealth. 

At the sidelines of the recent Women in Tech (Asia) conference held in Singapore, Coviu CEO and co-founder Silvia Pfeiffer told Healthcare IT News Asia-Pacific that following the digitisation of conversations between patients and clinicians, healthcare providers need to focus on the capture of data. 

Coviu, a spinoff from CSIRO of Australia, is a three-year old cloud-based teleconferencing software vendor that has a big roadmap and ideas to bring into the telehealth consultation space.

“We currently do not have any statistics on how many consultations doctors do: They’re all on paper, random statistics. Whereas here, with Coviu, we can capture the accurate data,” Pfeiffer said. 

“But we can do much more than that now that we’ve got a digital conversation. Now that the images are digital, we can do image analysis. Part of this is AI, and we do real-time health analysis that can help the clinicians make more informed decisions.

“For instance, we’re working on a project called Range of Motion analysis, so how well can you move your limbs, which could be interesting after knee surgery or any breakages etc. So, it’s good for physiotherapy.” 

One focus area for Coviu is clinician tools. 

“Let’s say you are a mental health practitioner, psychiatrist or psychologist. Often questionnaires or specific tools are used to help identify whether a patient has a certain mental illness or not, and whether they are progressing or improving,” Pfeiffer said.

“So these are clinician tools that they want to use in their consultations, and there may be tools that patients can take home as a mobile application. But there is also a need for the clinician to see a summary of results from the patient so that they can track the progress of the patient.”

As such, Pfeiffer said she sees Coviu as a “vital part in the future of healthcare” where it delivers mobile applications for patients to use to self-monitor themselves and dashboards for clinicians to supervise what is happening with the patient. 

[Read more: Australian online digital doctor service expanding to provide comprehensive GP services and specialist appointments | Call for Medicare to catch up, as the momentum of telehealth uptake grows]

Another aspect she identified is to support the workflows of clinicians and improve the communication component between the patient and clinician. 

But clinicians’ adoption of new technologies do come with their own set of challenges. 

According to Pfeiffer, when the company first launched its product, it found that people are set in their ways and clinicians being very busy people. 

“Most of the time, they have their practices booked out and don’t need to look for more patients, so why would they pick up new technologies?” she questioned. 

In 2013, it did its first project with a team of speech pathologists out of Royal Far West School, which provides healthcare for Australia’s rural areas. The school was delivering services with legacy systems that included an outdated video conferencing system of poor quality.

“They could not share content very well and could not really work properly with the children – it was just a nightmare. We built a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and gave it to them to try. Two years later, they still did not want to let go of it.”

Using that as a platform, the company built on its solution because it identified that healthcare practitioners needed new technologies that would give them the tools for live consultations, to replicate exactly what they are doing face-to-face. 

“That’s what we built Coviu on. We started in 2015, and registered and launched publicly in 2016,” Pfeiffer said. 

Fast forward to today, Pfeiffer said technologies such as AI and algorithms, and other changes happening in healthcare is drastically changing the industry, proving to actually make better decisions than clinicians in specific areas.

“The question of adoption is getting the clinicians, patients and the administrators onboard. And that adoption is changing behaviour, which is always difficult. But if you can provide opportunities for them [clinicians] to make their lives easier, to reach more patients and to scale their businesses, you’re on a winning streak, and you can do something with them,” she said. 


This is a version of an article originally published on the Asia Pacific edition of Healthcare IT News. 



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