With PetalMD, doctors can devote more time to their patients

So you haven’t gone past the pager worn at the belt by all doctors’ who had to stop everything as soon as the small device started beeping? A booster shot might be in order, if only to remind people how much communication has evolved over the past few years in the medical field. As a matter of fact, this has been PetalMD’s mission since its creation five years ago in Quebec City. It is now a leader in the development of productivity solutions for physicians across Canada, and its Cloud platform powered by OVH sparked the next revolution in the healthcare industry.

The apple never falls far from the tree. When Patrice Gilbert, Jason Sweeney and François-Pierre Bouchard founded PetalMD at the beginning of the 2010s, they definitely wanted to build on their experience with technology as applied to human resources. They had just spent several years at Taléo, a Quebec company that was bought by Oracle in 2012 for 1.9 billion dollars, and has developed a cloud-based talent management platform. This brought them to next challenge in healthcare, where redtape is particularly heavy and has become a roadblock for communication between doctors and schedule management. “Right from the beginning, our goal was to optimize productivity for healthcare professionals so that they can devote more time to their patients”, says Guillaume Robert, Marketing Director at PetalMD.

With PetalMD, doctors can devote more time to their patients

Improving medical planning management

PetalMD first launched a SaaS scheduling platform, which quickly convinced several hundreds Canadian doctors. This platform allows physicians to update availabilities and absences in real time as well as task switching. “And then hospitals became envious”, adds Guillaume Robert, “so we had to adapt quickly”. That operation wasn’t so difficult after all since a few major Canadian institutions, such as the University of Montreal Health Centre (CHUM), the CHU in Quebec City or the Quebec Heart and Lung Institute are now using the solution. And this is in addition to the 30,000 doctors (out of 75,000 across Canada), mainly in Quebec and Ontario, who make up the PetalMD network. “We calculated that our solutions allow doctors to reduce the time dedicated to administrative duties by 25%. This represents a significant gain for patients, not to mention satisfaction for the doctors who can finally streamline their work time”, says Guillaume Robert.

Communicating and learning safely

In order to expand their portfolio of services and propose a comprehensive offer, PetalMD then launched an online appointment booking solution that has a positive impact on attendance rate and allows doctors to synchronize availabilities and preferences with appointments offered to patients. More recently, a secure messaging application has been released for healthcare professionals. Accessible from a smartphone or a tablet, this tool is ideal to exchange confidential information while avoiding a third-party. The collaborative side of this platform doesn’t stop there since it also has a central library where doctors can upload, consult and share all kinds of documents. They can also get continuous medical education for free, through conferences, seminars, and training sessions offered by universities and the Quebec Federation of General Practitioners.

Patrice Gilbert, CEO de PetalMD

As an additional proof of security, the platform is compliant with HIPAA standards (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), based on the American law regulating information exchange between the various players in the field of healthcare, particularly regarding patients’ medical data. By complying with the technological standards of this law, which are slightly
stricter than its Canadian counterpart, PetalMD is somehow revealing its ambition to soon launch its solution in the US and… in Europe. If America already has a mature and very competitive market, Europe on the other hand is a little behind in terms of technological healthcare management. “Hospitals have contacted us from several European Union member countries and we’ll explore this ecosystem in order to assess their needs, legal issues, and determine if specific technologies should be developed. Ultimately, we would like to forge valuable partnerships that could help us setting up our business over there”, adds Guillaume Robert.

While some work remains to be done before finding success beyond the Canadian borders, things are looking up for the young company: with 60 employees, it showed a record growth of 130% last year and is already working hard on new products and features in order to meet the demands of a booming sector. In Canada, in Europe and very soon in the US where it plans to open two datacenters in 2017, OVH will be there to support them.

How the Private Cloud guarantees maximum flexibility and security to PetalMD

PetalMD has set its sights on the OVH Private Cloud to manage its production platform. As the backbone of their infrastructure, it contains all of its users’ confidential data, including patients. In addition to the Private Cloud, the company can count on the high availability of VPS Cloud to host its secondary sites (blogs…). Several dedicated servers complete the infrastructure and are used to send analytical data as well as carrying out external monitoring. An iron-clad combination when it comes to performance and security, it ensures great flexibility on a daily basis and will surely adapt to PetalMD’s growing ambitions worldwide.

By choosing OVH to support its expansion, PetalMD didn’t play down its requirements in terms of data security. The healthcare sector is particularly sensitive, as seen over the past few months with several cyber attacks across North America. In July of 2015, 4.5 million patient files from the UCLA Health Centre were targeted by a computer attack. This followed a healthcare insurance hack that affected 80 million Americans earlier that year. The secure messaging application proposed by PetalMD, which encrypts all data going through it and prevents collusions with a third-party (administrative staff), offers a warranty that is essential to safeguard the confidentiality of communications between practitioners as well as patient data.

OVH’s own network, which is entirely private and redundant, “represents the extra layer of security we were looking for”, says Julien Maitrehenry, IT Director at PetalMD. As the only non-American world-class cloud provider to operate in Canada, OVH’s positioning also played a major role in PetalMD’s choice. Like most other countries, Canadian legislation requires that any sensitive data from its own institutions (hospitals for example) remain inside its borders. This prerequisite is fully supported by OVH, who opened in 2012 a datacenter South of Montreal with a capacity of 360,000 servers.