Telemedicine has been around for decades! Fast-track 2021, with the advent of advanced digital technologies, telemedicine continues to grow expeditiously. Telemedicine today provides ever-increasing access to quality healthcare and has become an efficient, cost-effective remote healthcare delivery paradigm.
As COVID-19 continues to spread, sparing no nation, healthcare providers are leveraging telemedicine to deliver uninterrupted healthcare services while ensuring the safety of both- staff and patients. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been a whopping 154% rise in telemedicine requests through the pandemic.
Decoding Telemedicine & Why Is It Important?
Unlike in-person doctor visits, telemedicine enables remote, real-time, two-way communication between a doctor and patient. Telemedicine brings aboard appropriate tools that allow physicians to reach out and periodically monitor patients who have difficulty attending the visits. Rural landscapes in and around the world usually make access to quality healthcare difficult for people. Rural patients are often hundreds of miles away from the healthcare they warrant.
With remote regions short on patient volume and budget, rarely do you find specialists like pediatricians, neurologists, cardiologists, or neonatologists around. Well, telemedicine is transforming this situation and delivering both- basic and advanced care to patients remotely. Telemedicine improves rural access to much-needed healthcare by unlocking access to specialists, routine health examinations, remote monitoring of vitals, and much more.
Now that we have understood how imperative telemedicine is! Let’s move ahead and understand the futuristic applications of telemedicine that can further amplify remote healthcare delivery.
Healthcare professionals can agree on the fact that a patient’s diagnosis is a multidisciplinary process. In most of the diagnoses, there is a multitude of testing involved, such as clinical, imaging, blood, and genetic marking. When it comes to telemedicine, the framework still lacks an array of testing due to geographical or cost limitations. Not just that, often doctors require discipline-specific testing to generate a comprehensive health assessment of the patient but couldn’t.
Well, the telemedicine industry is experiencing the onset of data-driven Artificial Intelligence algorithms having the potential to eliminate the gaps poised by half-done testing. These algorithms apply Machine Learning methodologies to gigantic datasets of patients, leverage statistical modeling, clustering to aid diagnosis, and produce more objective results. A report by Accenture suggests that AI-enabled health delivery can save the healthcare economy a whopping USD 150 billion in the USA alone.
IoT- Internet of Things:
Today we have an interconnected mesh of physical devices over the internet that constitutes an IoT network. Telemedicine has started leveraging the sensors in devices such as wearables, machines, and smartphones to become digitally intelligent. IoT can boost telemedicine endeavors by delivering real-time patient monitoring and statistics to doctors. A doctor can look for skin wounds, rashes, body pulse, oxygen levels and seamlessly analyze a patient.
Upon diagnosis, the patient can be monitored on a real-time basis and keep a check on their vitals. Through telemedicine, a doctor can have access to a patient’s all vital related information on a second basis. Thus, abnormalities can be addressed even before they become severe. Moreover, senior citizens warranting medical care can be monitored as well, hassle-free.
Augmentation of Tele-Surgery:
For a long time, people have been skeptical about telesurgery due to an array of stigmas and technology-related issues. With the ongoing incorporation of 5G technology around the world, telesurgery is set to go mainstream. Gone are the days when healthcare providers were worried about network latencies poised by 3G/4G technologies. The revolutionary 5G technology has brought down network latency from 0.27-second latency to a mere 0.01 seconds.
Thus, surgeons can operate remotely without having to worry about network-related latencies. Plus, 5G can enable access to improved image quality, surveillance feeds, data generation, and transfer. The Lancet has found that over 143 million surgeries are canceled every year due to a lack of access to surgery-specific knowledge and qualified surgeons. Thus, telesurgery can bring revolution in this niche by providing an operating theater with an upper hand.
Decision Support for Healthcare Professionals:
There is no denying that telemedicine boosts collaboration and communication by connecting healthcare providers. Irrespective of the geographical locations, healthcare experts can come together, diagnose a patient and deliver quality care all from the internet. Clinical professionals can download professional PowerPoint templates for telemedicine, populate a patient’s history, generate healthcare reports & take swift decisions.
Not just that, telemedicine eliminates potential diagnosis gaps. Patients can leverage telemedicine for second opinions and diagnosis right from the comfort of their homes. Thus, we can say telemedicine has all the potential to further magnify diagnosis, monitoring, treatment, and education of patients. Different teams of clinical professionals can come together and promote the continuity of healthcare for their patients.
Preventative Care Applications:
Did you know a CDC USA report has found that chronic diseases that are easily avoidable through preventative care account for over 75% of healthcare spending? Telemedicine is set to encourage preventative care by allowing remote follow-ups, efficient diagnosis, and unlocking access to specialists without boundaries.
We can agree that the post COVID world will never be the same again. Telemedicine-enabled preventative & contact tracing solutions can subdue the spread of chronic diseases and foster a healthy relationship between patients and doctors.
The End Line:
Telemedicine continues to show a tremendous promise in expanding access to healthcare for everybody. With patients getting accustomed to telemedicine-enabled healthcare, telemedicine has the potential to become a standardized service across all medical settings in near future.
Patients will have the liberty to choose healthcare professionals, systems, hospitals all through an integrated telemedicine framework. The day is imminent when telemedicine becomes the new paradigm in the healthcare industry.