Social interactions are essential for us, regular human beings. However, in the times of isolation and lockdowns, it’s barely possible to meet people or go outside often. The quarantine harms our social connectedness. What’s more dangerous, it may harm our physical health because hospitals ask patients to stay home, avoid regular checkups, and even planned surgeries. So, is it possible to monitor your health without leaving home?
Remote healthcare tools help with this task a lot. The concept is known as telehealth, remote healthcare, remote medical care, RMC, etc. Regardless of the name, the idea is simple – it provides for distant communication between patients and doctors or clinics. Sometimes, you may need custom software for healthcare company. In other cases, developers offer open-source platforms. Let’s review the possible tools and their features right here.
The Importance of Digital Solutions
There’s one pressing issue with traditional healthcare institutions. They accumulate infections. The current pandemic proves this because most of the focuses of infection are in hospitals and clinics. Hereby, we face a problem: people who need medical care can’t afford to get it because it’s too risky.
According to Johns Hopkins, there are more than 4.7 million registered coronavirus cases. But let’s remember that COVID-19 isn’t the only active disease nowadays. There are millions of people with thousands of health issues, from minor to severe. A lot of them are seniors – the most vulnerable category today.
Hence, telehealth and remote treatment can save the game. Digital tools eliminate the need for personal visits, at least partially. Now, we have an excellent opportunity to rethink our patient-doctor relationships, add some innovations. It’s possible that future pandemics will be much deadlier, and we won’t have time to adapt later.
Remote Healthcare Fundamentals
To get familiar with the current and planned solutions, feel free to move through this section. It reveals which healthcare solutions we can use remotely, their advantages, and which challenges we face.
Examples of Tools
Apparently, there are many examples of remote healthcare solutions actively used in hospitals. Still, not all teams utilize these innovations. The COVID pandemic forces more companies to move to online and remote options that boost patient and doctor protection. Mainly, these tools relate to the MedTech industry that grows on the verge of medicine and IT. Check out the most popular MedTech gadgets and concepts right here:
- Blood pressure monitors. Measure one of the most essential indicators, including blood pressure and heart rate. Data can be recorded locally or sent to hospitals for a better connection. Modern monitors even can send emergency calls automatically.
- Electronic health records. This technology is famous, but new tools expand its functionality. EHR solutions combine file sharing, remote monitoring, scheduling, consulting, and other forms of assistance.
- Glucose meters. Being vital for patients with diabetes, these monitors track the glucose level constantly, notify about abnormalities. With them, people can make insulin injections when necessary. Some innovative tools offer automated injections, too.
- Large-scale monitoring tools. Complex all-in-one solutions for hospitals are indispensable under current conditions. They reduce the number of staff members. Thus, 2-3 nurses can easily monitor 100 and more beds.
- Remote consulting apps. From Viber groups to dedicated consulting platforms, these solutions allow patients to stay home and get professional help from doctors. Healthcare workers can deliver prescriptions, suggest treatment, observe patients.
- Wristbands and trackers. Traditional fitness trackers can be used for healthcare needs, too. They measure heart rate, calories, steps, and other basic wellbeing factors. There are more tailored wristbands that can track different parameters.
Generally, a remote healthcare tool is a win-win option for both patients and doctors. They prevent people from infecting each other, help to stay isolated, offer reliable connections. Of course, these projects are far from perfect. But challenges are described in the next section. As for now, let’s look at the advantages of these technologies:
- 24/7 monitoring. Hospitals can track all the relevant data without interruption, regardless of the patient location and state. Thus, all parties are more protected.
- All data under one roof. Thanks to comprehensive healthcare solutions, doctors can add info to personal profiles, check histories, and analyze progress.
- Cost-efficient interaction. Automation and no need for commute can save a lot of money. Healthcare organizations and clients can keep their funds.
- Improved diagnostics and prescriptions. Often, remote medicine pairs with other tech solutions like robotics and AI that optimize human analysis.
- Reduction of paperwork. Again, robotic automation and digitalization removes many papers like patient records, bring them online.
- Regular notifications. Using a smartphone and a health tracker, patients can get timely reminders to make injections, take drugs, exercise, etc.
- Quicker and smoother communication. Overall, remote interaction is fast because people don’t have to spend time traveling to hospitals.
- Timely identification of problems. Regular monitoring helps clinics to spot any potential problems quickly, contact a patient.
So, what about issues? There are two general barriers that prevent remote healthcare services from widespread adoption. We’re at the beginning of the digital transformation of the industry. That’s why both patients and doctors aren’t fully ready for remote migration. And these two challenges are highly interconnected:
- Poor accessibility. This complex issue involves problems with the financial situation in different regions, as well as the capabilities of individuals. Not all countries can afford global online solutions, mobile apps, or even messengers due to high costs and poor connection quality. Moreover, not all people can use these solutions. For instance, seniors face difficulties while using smartphones.
- Skepticism towards tech. While the first challenge is more technical, this one is social. Even today, a lot of doctors, regulators, and regular customers refuse using remote healthcare services. They either don’t trust new things or don’t want to change traditional behavior. People want to get proofs of 100% security of their data and 100% accuracy of diagnoses. In this case, we return to tech progress once again.
The Post-Pandemic Ecosystem
It’s still unclear when the COVID-19 crisis will end. But, indeed, the pandemic has already changed our behavior, both personal and social. While we can’t say how the world will develop after the quarantine, we’re sure that remote medicine will stay for long. Dr. David Rhew from Microsoft agrees with this fact. He says that remote tools represent “a great way to monitor, save protective equipment, decrease the risk of exposure”.