Telemedicine: 3 technological solutions that your patients and clients expect

In recent years, telehealth has been said to be one of the strongest trends in healthcare in general. It is a response to the difficulties in diagnosing and treating patients in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, when access to traditional medical services has been severely limited. The survey conducted by [1] shows that half of the patients used remote solutions in the last three months, and as many as 83% intend to do so even after the pandemic. In this situation, it is worth considering making your services available to patients or clients in a remote way. What technological solutions will be particularly helpful in this regard?

Patients asked in the survey about what kind of health problems they would report to the doctor when consulting online, answered primarily that it would be a runny nose and allergy (almost half of the respondents). 45% said that they would ask for a general health check and – also 45% – would report a need for psychological or psychiatric help. Patients, however, expect remote assistance also in the case of emergency that sometimes require, for example, palpation (such as abdominal ailments).

This means that today telehealth cannot be limited to enabling efficient communication between patients and doctors only, but should also facilitate remote diagnostics of at least some diseases.

The use of additional devices (the so-called wearables) may, in turn, allow for preventive measures or facilitate control over the treatment of chronic diseases, which is also expected by patients.

Therefore, it seems that the solutions and technological trends that will hit the telehealth market in the coming months and years will certainly include: IoT, AR and VR as well as Big Data and data analysis using AI algorythms.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these trends and technologies.

IoT, wearables and mobile applications

IoT, and in the case of medicine – IoMT, i.e. the Internet of Medical Things, allows medical staff to collect advanced medical data on patients using electronic devices such as smartwatches and heart rate bands or – much more advanced – smart beds or ECG monitors. This means that the patient – while staying at home – is under constant medical care and the effects of the therapy are better controlled.

In addition, it is possible to increase the effectiveness of the therapy – technological solutions may, for example, remind the patient to take the next dose of the drug or simply dose it, preventing e.g. taking a double dose to make up for the missed one.

This is especially important in the case of clinical trials, where strict compliance may be of key importance for the success of therapy and further development of a medicinal product.

With the growing popularity of IoMT solutions, the number of mobile applications available from a phone or a smartwatch is also growing. It is estimated that their total number has already exceeded 320,000 with the number of suppliers of such solutions reaching over 80,000 [2] and the market is still developing. It should come as no surprise – the development of mobile applications, as long as they are delivered by an experienced IT provider, is efficient and does not have to consume large budgets. You can read about this process in detail here.

AR and VR – support for healthcare professionals and patients

Augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) are advanced technologies, which, however – according to many experts – can revolutionize the way medical services are provided. Especially when deployed in a remote way.

An example of the use of VR or AR may be limited to facilitating medical staff (especially those who are just learning their profession) care for patients by analyzing their health condition based on parameters and suggesting how to perform further medical procedures, including those saving life (the so-called AR aided navigation).

However, AR and VR technologies can also provide support to the patients themselves, for example by instructing them how to perform specific therapeutic exercises.

Going even further, the use of AR and VR during surgery cannot be omitted. Thanks to this solution the surgeon can, for example, receive detailed data on the patient’s parameters using smart glasses without having to interrupt the procedure.

Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

The analysis of big data by AI algorithms, which are additionally able to learn (machine learning), also makes the e-health market red hot. All the more so in combination with telehealth solutions, which makes collecting data easier than ever before.

As a result, doctors may, for example, receive treatment recommendations based on the analysis of thousands of similar medical cases. The larger the database, the more effective and accurate these recommendations are.

Of course, it should not be assumed that AI will eventually replace doctors – but it will be a significant support in their daily work.

However, the big challenge in this case is the personal data security – medical data is particularly sensitive. The solution to this problem may be anonymization of data, thanks to which they can be transferred further and serve the dynamic development of knowledge in the field of medicine.