Telemedicine has certainly reached its inflection point, with providers as well as patients rooting for the proliferation of robust and secure telemedicine offerings. The technology has the potential to change the face of medicine, facilitating earlier disease detection, deeper real-time insights, and improved outcomes.
Fremont, CA: A year and a half ago, almost overnight, the world came to a standstill when WHO declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic. Lockdowns were imposed by governments worldwide, and social gatherings were restricted significantly. The effects were felt not only by businesses but the healthcare sector as well, especially when proximity and contact were ill advised, especially in high-risk locations like hospitals and health clinics—despite the sanitization and cleansing measures.
As physicians and patients alike sought a better, contactless alternative to provide and get relevant care, one technology emerged as a clear winner—telemedicine. It presented a perfect solution, where physicians could consult with their patients over digital devices connected to the internet, whether it was smartphones, laptops, and so on. Moreover, patients no longer had to travel to healthcare centers or hospitals to get consultations and could easily and remotely communicate with their doctors over long distances.
Today, telemedicine has certainly reached its inflection point, with providers as well as patients rooting for the proliferation of robust and secure telemedicine offerings. Both healthcare providers and patients have realized the availability, efficiency, and convenience the technology has brought into the healthcare space. Needless to say, virtualized healthcare facilitated by telemedicine is here to stay. In fact, it is quickly becoming the ‘new normal’ and paving the way for a ‘connected healthcare’ paradigm.
Going a step further, healthcare providers are augmenting the baseline functionalities of telemedicine by integrating it with other emerging technologies. Integrated telemedicine has the potential to introduce increasingly immersive interactions, enabling earlier disease detection, deeper real-time insights, and improved outcomes. Even now, healthcare providers are experimenting with two technologies—computer vision and biometric monitoring—and assessing their capabilities in conjunction with telemedicine.
Computer vision, for instance, can help capture valuable insights from images and videos sent through telemedicine applications. Rather than the physicians analyzing the content manually, computer vision can automate the extraction of meaningful information and promote more useful clinical interactions, enhancing outcomes for both physicians and patients. Furthermore, the insights captured through computer vision can be incorporated into the existing patient files in the EHR.
On the other hand, biometric monitoring has the potential to address several shortcomings in the baseline telemedicine functionalities. For instance, telemedicine does not allow physicians to ascertain the relevant biomarkers with much precision as in the case of in-person visits. This is where remote patient monitoring (RPM) or biometric monitoring can help fill the gap and broaden the functionalities of telemedicine to high-risk patients with acute heart, lung, and neurological conditions.
At this junction, we can conclude that the benefits of telemedicine are quite evident. The next step is for healthcare providers to make telemedicine an integral part of the strategic IT roadmaps—not only to keep pace with the fast-changing consumer preferences and aggressive competitor adoptions but also to deliver digital-first healthcare models that can bring greater sustainability into the field. Such proactive revamping of their current telemedicine capabilities will enable healthcare organizations to become more reactive and dynamic to the needs of their patients.