Last updated on May 25, 2023
If you really look at it, telemedicine has been around for hundreds of years. For example, in medieval Europe, doctors smoked to convey information about the bubonic plague. Fast forward a few centuries and we had the advent of the radio and the telephone, which rapidly changed the treatment of patients.
Today, the Internet and smartphones, along with PCs and tablets, have leapfrogged the field of telemedicine. The COVID 19 pandemic meant that telemedicine became a part of everyone’s lives. We are part of a generation that is seeing a paradigm shift in the way healthcare is delivered.
In this blog post, we look at the latest innovations in telemedicine and how they are changing the foundation of modern medical practice. Let’s begin.
1. Virtual visits and telehealth platforms
When the COVID 19 pandemic hit, it meant that everyone now had to accept the “new normal”. According to this WHO report, more than 103 million cases of the disease have been reported in the United States alone. The virus is spreading rapidly, and social distancing has become more than just a necessity. That’s when doctors started turning to technology to find a solution.
Virtual visits mean remote consultations between doctors and patients. It uses sophisticated technologies such as video conferencing, secure data transmission, and real-time communication tools. Virtual consultation thus empowers both doctors and patients.
Patients can avail world-class healthcare services from the comfort of their homes. And doctors can reach all their patients, no matter how remote their location.
Virtual consultation has thus become an important part of telemedicine. In the future, we can expect more and more patients to use this facility.
2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Applications
“AI will change the way people work, learn, travel, receive healthcare and interact with each other.”
Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft
When one of the legends of technology talks about artificial intelligence, we sit up and listen. Bill Gates also wrote in his blog that AI is as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the computer, the Internet, and now the smartphone.
What sets AI apart is its ability to analyze datasets and then identify patterns. AI and machine learning algorithms can help predict potential health problems even before they occur.
Another significant application of AI is in diagnostic and decision support systems. According to a study in Nature Magazine, AI was able to outperform even dermatologists in detecting a type of skin cancer.
Personalized medicine is another important application of AI and ML. Machine learning algorithms can analyze genomic data, treatment outcomes, and patient history to make optimal therapy recommendations for each individual.
Thus, AI and ML have enormous potential and are critical to the evolution of telemedicine.
3. Mobile apps and patient portals for self-care
Mobile apps are a thing and have been since the introduction of the iPhone. People use mobile apps to hail taxis, stay in touch with their loved ones, order food and even sleep. So why should healthcare be any different?
You can use mobile apps to schedule appointments, as reminders for patients to fill their prescriptions, and to send messages with healthcare providers. An example is the MyChart app, which its creators claim is used by more than 160 million patients.
The app is available on both Google Play Store and App Store. The MyChart app lets you view lab results, communicate with your medication team, and even manage medications, all in the palm of your hand.
Patient portals are web platforms where patients can easily access their medical records, treatment plans, and test results. Patients can also access hospital visit summaries, request appointments and review their immunization records.
Patient portals and mobile apps bring the best healthcare information to patients. They also improve comfort and promote patient-centered care, leading to improved patient satisfaction.
4. Wearable Technologies and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
Proactive health management – fighting disease before it becomes a serious problem – is getting a lot of attention these days thanks to the proliferation of smartwatches.
Devices like this heart rate monitor are relics of the past as more and more smartwatches enter the mainstream market every day.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) allows healthcare providers to remotely monitor a patient’s vital signs and key health indicators using a variety of connected devices. This data is then transmitted securely to their healthcare provider, allowing them to intervene in time.
Wearable technology is another advancement in telemedicine that we see great use in the future. Smart watches and other similar devices can be used to measure a variety of vitals, including heart rate, activity level, sleep patterns, and more.
The combination of RPM and wearable technology promotes preventive care and increases patient engagement. They align with value-based care initiatives, signaling a shift in health care delivery toward greater individualization.
5. Data Security and Blockchain Technologies
Protect patient information and ensure data compliance; this should be top of mind if you are running a healthcare organization. One of the most promising solutions that provides a secure data management platform is Blockchain technology.
Blockchain is decentralized and immutable. This allows you to easily deal with data breaches and prevent unauthorized access. Blockchain technology allows secure storage and sharing of patient records while ensuring privacy and data integrity.
Encryption and blockchain-based authentication can strengthen telemedicine platforms, allowing for secure and efficient remote consultations. In addition to this, Blockchain technology’s audit trail capabilities can facilitate compliance with regulations such as the HIPAA Act.
As you can see, telemedicine is going to be revolutionized in the coming years. Telemedicine tools such as videoconferencing may become the first source of contact for many patients in the future. If you want your healthcare facility to stay relevant, you better start using these technological advances to your advantage.