Wed May 17 2023
Future of Telemedicine Technology with IoT and AI
Telehealth, also known as telemedicine, refers to the use of technology to deliver healthcare services remotely. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of telehealth, as healthcare providers look for ways to safely and effectively treat patients while minimizing the risk of infection.
The world has come a long way from the brim days of the pandemic and social gathering and meeting each other is back to normal. However, a few things that set a precedent during the social-distancing days will remain in the system for good. One such aspect is telehealth which can be regarded as a boon for patients who cannot commute long distances to follow up with their physician or remote locations that are inaccessible to a hospital.
Telehealth technology has the potential to shape healthcare in several ways. For one, it can increase access to care, particularly for patients who live in rural or remote areas. Telehealth can also reduce costs, as it eliminates the need for patients to travel to healthcare facilities and can reduce the burden on healthcare providers.
By allowing healthcare professionals to monitor patients remotely and conduct more prompt interventions when necessary, telehealth can also enhance patient outcomes. It can also improve patient engagement by making it easier for patients to communicate with their healthcare providers and access educational resources.
Technologies Shaping Telehealth Deliverance
Telemedicine, the use of technology to deliver healthcare services remotely, has been rapidly advancing in recent years. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption of telemedicine has accelerated even further, with many healthcare providers turning to virtual care to safely and effectively treat patients. Here are five technologies that are advancing telemedicine and helping healthcare providers to overcome some of the challenges they face:
AI is becoming increasingly important in healthcare, and telemedicine is no exception. One way in which AI is being used is through chatbots, which can help patients to schedule appointments, get information about their medications, and even receive basic medical advice. AI-powered virtual assistants can also help to triage patients, directing them to the appropriate care pathway based on their symptoms.
AI can also help to analyze medical images, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. This technology can identify anomalies and highlight potential areas of concern, enabling doctors to provide more accurate diagnoses and better care to their patients.
Internet of Things
IoT refers to the network of devices that are connected to the internet and can communicate with each other. In healthcare, IoT devices are being used to remotely monitor patients and collect real-time data on their health status. For example, wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers can track a patient's heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs, allowing doctors to monitor their condition remotely.
IoT devices can also be used to automate certain tasks, such as dispensing medication, which can improve patient adherence to their treatment plans and reduce the risk of errors.
3D printing technology is revolutionizing healthcare in many ways, and one of its most exciting applications is in tissue grafting. 3D printing can be used to create custom-made implants, such as prosthetic limbs and dental implants, which can be tailored to the specific needs of each patient.
In tissue grafting, 3D printing can be used to create scaffolds that are infused with stem cells or other biological materials. These scaffolds can be implanted into the body, where they encourage the growth of new tissue and help to repair damaged organs or tissues.
Robotic surgery is another technology that is advancing telemedicine. Robotic surgery systems allow surgeons to perform procedures remotely, using a combination of cameras, robotic arms, and other advanced technologies. This technology can be particularly useful for procedures that are complex or difficult to perform using traditional surgical techniques.
Robotic surgery can also be used to perform procedures that require a high degree of precision, such as microsurgery. This technology can help to reduce the risk of complications and improve patient outcomes.
Augmented reality (AR) technology is being used in healthcare to provide doctors and other healthcare providers with real-time information and guidance during procedures. AR can overlay images and other information onto the surgeon's field of view, allowing them to see exactly where to make incisions or where to place implants.
AR can also be used to train healthcare providers, providing them with a realistic and immersive environment in which to practice their skills.
Effective implementation of telehealth requires the use of various technologies, such as video conferencing, remote monitoring devices, artificial intelligence, and mobile applications. These technologies can enable healthcare providers to deliver care remotely, monitor patient health, and improve communication between patients and providers.
The successful implementation of telehealth also requires strong technical infrastructure, adequate training for healthcare providers, and clear policies and guidelines for the use of telehealth. By leveraging these technologies and implementing telehealth effectively, healthcare providers can improve access to care, reduce costs, and improve patient outcomes.
Cost-Benefit Analysis of Telehealth Technologies
New technology does not come easy for an establishment. So it is also a contention point for most hospital management when spending on the tools that will enable the telehealth programs. Nevertheless, telehealth and the use of technology to deliver healthcare services remotely have the potential to reduce healthcare costs in many ways. Here are a few examples of how telehealth can help to reduce costs:
1. Reduced travel costs
Telehealth eliminates the need for patients to travel to healthcare facilities, which can be particularly costly for patients who live in rural or remote areas. By delivering care remotely, telehealth can reduce transportation costs for patients and improve access to care.
2. Improved efficiency
Telehealth can help to improve efficiency in healthcare delivery, as it enables healthcare providers to deliver care more quickly and efficiently. For example, telehealth can reduce wait times for appointments, as patients can receive care from the comfort of their own homes. Telehealth can also help to reduce administrative costs, as it eliminates the need for paper-based systems and can automate certain tasks, such as appointment scheduling.
3. Preventive care
Telehealth can also help to reduce healthcare costs by promoting preventive care. By enabling healthcare providers to monitor patients remotely, telehealth can help to identify potential health issues early on and prevent more costly health problems from developing.
4. Chronic disease management
Telehealth can also help to reduce healthcare costs for patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease. By enabling patients to monitor their condition remotely and communicate with healthcare providers as needed, telehealth can help to reduce hospital admissions and emergency department visits.
Overall, telehealth has the potential to reduce healthcare costs by improving efficiency, promoting preventive care, and enabling remote monitoring and management of chronic diseases. By implementing telehealth effectively, healthcare providers can improve access to care, reduce costs, and improve patient outcomes.
A patient who has suffered a stroke and is under observation can be released if the facility to monitor their health remotely is feasible without any hurdles. Telehealth makes remote monitoring of patients accessible which in turn translates to better patient engagement, improved medication adherence, and better outcomes. Overall the cost burden of readmissions due to repeat episodes is reduced resulting in good and safe patient care.