5 Surprising Ways In Which Telemedicine Is Revolutionizing Healthcare
(Forbes) – “Telemedicine is the natural evolution of healthcare in the digital world,” American Telemedicine Association. Telemedicine empowers the caregivers to remotely interact with their patients, which greatly improves both the efficiency and affordability of healthcare. Today patients, doctors and caregivers have learned to accept telemedicine (often called ‘telehealth’ or ‘connected health’) as one of many ways of delivering care.
Soon after Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876, ideas of using a telephone to communicate with physicians started appearing in the medical literature. However, telemedicine was truly born in the 1950s, when radiologic images were successfully transferred by telephone between West Chester and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the late 1960s and 1970s, telemedicine developed with support from National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA), U.S. Public Health Service, Department of Defense and other federal agencies.
Video chatting has become ubiquitous with technology advances such as 4G internet speeds, low-cost smartphones and standardized phone operating systems. The advent of additional technology standards such as interoperable electronic health records (EHR), secure cloud storage (HIPAA), and wearable health trackers that can communicate with the smartphone has further incentivized consumers to jump on to the telehealth bandwagon. Perhaps the ultimate goal of telehealth is to bring continuous care to consumers while they are working or at home, years before they end up in a clinic.
“Telehealth is not a specific service, but a collection of means to enhance care and education delivery,” says the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP). CCHP further classify telehealth into four types of services, live-video conferencing, mobile health, remote patient monitoring, and store-and-forward. Most telehealth platforms provide one or more of these services, to a niche patient or consumer segment.
1. Remote elderly monitoring
Between the years 2000 and 2050, the number of people aged 60 years or older is expected to increase from 605 million to 2 billion. The rapidly increasing elderly patient population have become one of the main beneficiaries of telehealth. Companies like Comarch, American Well, and Global Med are building doctor video chat platforms targeted at the elderly.
Medication adherence services such as AdhereTech, MyUBox , MedMinder and Vitality GlowCaps are helping elderly and geriatric patients, as well as their caregivers, to smartly manage and track their medication usage.
Catalia Health’s Mabu robot or Intuition Robotics’ ElliQ robot are virtual home assistants for elderly who live alone and require daily assistance as well as companionship. Voice services such as Amazon Echo or Orbita Health are building virtual assistants, targeted at delivering medication adherence and care coordination for the elderly.
2. Remote psychiatric care
“Telepsychiatry, a subset of telemedicine, can involve providing a range of services including psychiatric evaluations, therapy (individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy), patient education and medication management,” American Psychiatry Association. Telepsychiatry has several advantages over traditional psychiatry including reduced stigma, reduced time off work, and better access to mental health specialty care that might not otherwise be available. Companies like Iris Health, Genoa Health, InSight, and MDLive are already delivering telepsychiatry platforms across the US.
3. Getting a second opinion
Patients often look for a quick and inexpensive second opinion from a specialist, after diagnosis of a medical condition. Telemedicine has stepped up, by providing solutions in this aspect as well. Companies and traditional healthcare services such as Partners Healthcare, 2nd.MD, DoctorSpring, and Cleaveland Clinic are providing quick and efficient second opinions using telehealth.
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