The COVID-19 pandemic has driven the rise of telemedicine. Find out more about the future of telemedicine and how this field is changing.
What Is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is the distribution of health-related services and information with the use of technologies. It enables long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, advice, intervention, and monitoring.
Primary care telemedicine often involves phone or video calls, where the patient seeks the doctor’s advice about health concerns. It’s usually for non-emergency conditions where the doctor doesn’t need to see the patient. And, while it doesn’t replace face-to-face care, it’s a helpful tool that aids healthcare.
Telemedicine offers convenient, cost-effective medical care in areas with limited access to healthcare services or when face-to-face contact is risky, for example, infectious diseases.
Gamification of Health
Gamification in healthcare is gaining momentum. It tries to apply gaming principles to enhance patient care, modify behavior, and improve health outcomes.
Some examples include Fitbit and other fitness tracking apps. Mango Health, an app that motivates patients to take their medications on time, is another type of gamified health app.
Many believe gamification can help support lasting change. Firstly, games trigger a reward response in our brains. And as a result, we feel a greater desire to continue playing. In other words, it’s a fun way to spend more time on health goals while we systematically change our behavior.
But, not everyone agrees. A recent study found Pokemon Go increased physical activity, but the effect only lasted six weeks.
The biggest obstacle will be designing informative fun games that are achievable but challenging. At the same time, games should pull users in without being toxically addictive.
An additional challenge is a need for “digital practitioners” that can identify the best programs to meet patient needs. At the same time, they need to assess whether game apps improve clinical outcomes.
AI In Healthcare
AI is everywhere, and we already see a trend to include it in every aspect of our lives. And the medical field is no exception.
Artificial intelligence simplifies the lives of patients, doctors, and other hospital staff. It automates repetitive tasks that humans typically do, but in less time and at a fraction of the cost.
AI is reinventing telehealth through machines that can predict, comprehend, learn, and act. Some of the ways AI is helping includes
- Reducing human error
- Symptom checking
- AI learning for actionable insights
- AI-powered radiology assistance
- Biopharmaceutical development
- Finding better candidates for clinical trials
In telemedicine, AI chatbots can review symptoms then connect patients to the right healthcare provider, either through a virtual or face-to-face meeting.
The future of telemedicine may involve using AI and facial-recognition to help track mental health problems as well.
Besides, AI can streamline patients’ journey and develop specialized, personalized healthcare plans.
Overall, AI has the potential to change the medical field dramatically.
Increased Access to Services
Telemedicine is becoming more popular, giving more people access to healthcare, reliable diagnoses, and better treatment.
However, t’s not only patients in remote areas gaining accessibility. Elderly patients or patients with mobility problems can also see a doctor from home.
The future of telemedicine includes using existing technology such as smartphones and adapting it to meet specific needs. Hyfe App is one example of this.
Most importantly, telemedicine may give patients access to specialized services such as remote ER or rare disease specialists.
More Reliable Data
Healthcare is one of the next big data frontiers to tame. Sometimes we lose valuable information among trillions of data points. Additionally, the failure to connect data points slows the rate of creating new drugs, preventative medicine, and proper diagnosis.
On the other hand, not collecting and sharing data is also problematic.
Because telehealth uses digital means to collect and store data, these problems could become a thing of the past. The future of telemedicine could see technology breaking down data silos and connecting data points in minutes that used to take years to process.
Acoustic epidemiology analyzes sounds and looks for scientific data on health-related events, causes, and risk factors.
Current technology can already record sounds. These sounds can then be processed by themselves or in correlation with other data.
But, devices are improving, along with more accurate, machine learning and artificial intelligence specificity and sensitivity. It could very well mean the future of telemedicine could include doctorless diagnoses.
Telemedicine has grown since the advent of the internet and smartphones. But COVID-19 has accelerated the trend, and researchers expect telemedicine to grow exponentially over the next five years. AI development and gamification of health are the trends that could change the face of telehealth. Both of which will impact the future of telemedicine in all areas.
How do you think telemedicine will change in the future? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!