Today’s fast-pace world demands constant innovation in the healthcare sector. Through developed technology and advanced software, the medical field has found convenient ways to administer healthcare. Telemedicine is a healthcare practice involving remote patient care through telecommunication technology. Although the practice of remote patient care is not a new concept (it has been around since the 1950s), the technology and software used to expand the practice has changed dramatically. Many individuals are unable to travel for the right care, and technology allows for access from a distance. With the current COVID-19 pandemic forcing us to make a shift in our daily lives, telemedicine has never been more important or in-demand. Remote patient care comes in different forms but has the ability to continue to expand and grow. This piece goes into depth on the three main forms of telemedicine:
When healthcare providers need to monitor patients from home, they can track their data through a variety of medical devices. This form of telemedicine is referred to as Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM). Several medical devices, including glucose meters, heart rate or blood pressure monitors, and caloric intake programs, have the capabilities of tracking vital signs and reporting how a patient feels. With RPM, physicians can regularly check on their patients and look out for symptoms that can turn into serious problems. This telemedicine solution is typically used among those fighting chronic diseases or those recovering after being in the hospital.
RPM takes on a few different names including “home telemedicine,” “self-monitoring,” and “self-testing.” There are a number of benefits that come with RPM, including greater frequency in monitoring, patient convenience, and cost-effectiveness. When looking at the frequency at which a physician can monitor a patient, medical devices allow for the collection of accurate data that can easily be tracked. Medical professionals can then quickly tend or advise a patient without having to physically be there with them. This also becomes more convenient for patients by eliminating a trip to a healthcare provider, especially when fighting an illness or injury that makes that trip challenging. Getting to a healthcare professional is not always so simple, but with RPM, the patient can immediately receive the care they rely on. Monitoring patients from home rather than in a hospital eliminates also several expenses typical of healthcare facilities, reducing the cost of care for both the provider and the patient.
RPM technology to look out for in the near future includes:
Micro-sampling devices essentially facilitate the removal of a blood sample remotely. Glucose-monitoring devices will eliminate the need for finger pricking by tracking blood sugar levels from a sensor placed in the skin. AI-backed computer vision will allow devices to make more accurate and quicker diagnoses than humans. Finally, mixed reality surgical devices ultimately will allow physicians to gain a better understanding of a patient’s condition. According to Business Insider, miniaturization is the next major trend in RPM technology. Medical device companies are looking for innovative ways to shrink devices, making them less invasive. This leaves room for market expansion and well-equipped software to pair with each device.
Telemedicine services are known for patient data collection and data analytics. This information can then be shared with other healthcare providers who might specialize in a specific area. This telemedicine solution is referred to as Store-and-Forward Telemedicine. Used widely across the world, Store-and-Forward software allows both patients and primary care physicians to share medical data with specialized healthcare professionals who can then accurately consult the patient and provide a proper diagnosis. The medical data processed in this telemedicine can be in the form of photos, recorded videos, and vital sign information. You will commonly see this form of telemedicine used in the medical fields of radiology, pathology, and dermatology.
This type of technology is incredibly efficient as specialists can be limited. Store-and-Forward telemedicine saves both the patient and medical professionals a great deal of time, while securely preserving a patient’s data and medical records. Because the technology allows for patient medical history, a specialist no longer needs to meet with the patient. They have the capability of gathering the patient’s medical data at their fingertips and can then quickly provide a response to the primary physician on what steps to take next. Ultimately, the service allows those in the medical field to serve patients at a much greater rate.
Imagine going into a physician’s office from the comfort of your own home. You have complete interaction with your healthcare provider in real-time. Technology has allowed this to develop far beyond giving a doctor a call. Real-Time Telemedicine requires that the patient and clinician both be present and interacting in real-time. In its simplest form this is done over the phone, but it also expands to chatrooms and online video conferences. No matter the form of technology used, the patient and healthcare provider communicate back-and-forth just as one would in a doctor’s office. Typically, the physician has access to the patient’s medical history, and the patient can provide comments for the doctor to assess via live video. Telemedicine software has been implemented into mobile medical devices to track real-time vitals and health information for examination.
Further incorporating this type of telemedicine software in the healthcare and medical device industry is important for patients who have difficulty physically getting to a medical professional. Many individuals cannot get to a doctor due to distance, time, the cost of traveling, or not being physically healthy enough to do so. Here we have a software solution that eliminates the obstacles, allowing for efficiency and convenience.
Currently, the healthcare system is facing a great deal of challenges fighting the incessant spread of the novel coronavirus. We have observed massive lockdowns around the world and have taken cautionary steps in our daily lives. Health professionals have urged those who do not require emergency care to stay home and away from hospitals to avoid receiving or spreading the virus. Telemedicine has never been more essential than right now. As healthcare providers try to manage the influx of infections, telemedicine allows them to aid patients with minor symptoms and also those with underlying health conditions who can not risk exposure at a hospital.
Overall, telemedicine software solutions will continue to drive medical devices and healthcare as a whole forward.