Technological advances in robotics have improved surgeries, but what about the actual process of visiting a clinic or hospital? Technology and medicine, one would think that the two would go hand-in-hand. However, as technology advances faster than ever before, at times, medicine has struggled to keep up. Telemedicine utilizes communication technology to deliver medical care remotely, and the Internet of Things tracks physicians and equipment, to dramatically reduce wait times and improve patient care.
Telemedicine Makes Virtual Healthcare a Reality
Back in the day, doctor’s routinely made house calls to check on patients that were unable to make it into the office. Somehow, as healthcare progressed, house calls became a thing of the past. Now, regardless of the severity of illness, patients must drag themselves into the emergency room or clinic for treatment.
The good news is that telecommunication technology is more advanced now than it has ever been before. Which means it is an ideal time for the health care system to invest in telemedicine. However, despite the fact that an overwhelming 74 percent of patients would utilize telemedicine options were they available, virtual house calls have yet to become the norm. For many, failure to invest and develop telemedicine is a tremendously missed opportunity given the vast benefits telemedicine can provide.
On average, a routine doctor’s visit costs patients $100, whereas a virtual appointment would cost around $45, saving patients over 50 percent per appointment. Virtual appointments also mean patients can avoid leaving work or school, which prevents unnecessary sick days and saves time that would have been spent driving to the doctor’s office and sitting in a waiting room.
The technology required for telemedicine is all within reach. Video conferencing technology and fast bandwidth are already a requirement in most corporate offices. The area that would require the most development would be an integrated telemedicine healthcare system with the ability to securely store patient information and share medical information between professionals. Once implemented this type of connectivity can further improve patient care as doctors efficiently communicate with one another for referrals and second opinions.
The Internet of Things Integrates Technology and Medical Devices
The same technology that connects smart electronics in a household can also be implemented in a medical setting to improve health care. Real-time location services can quickly track down patients, staff, and medical devices, which can improve the quality and expediency of treatment, especially in large hospital settings. The KAA project has developed an open-source Internet of Things (IoT) platform specifically for hospitals. This system allows health care systems to establish connectivity across devices and integrate smart technology into medical devices, improving diagnostics, patient monitoring, and overall efficiency. Wearables are another addition to the IoT that could improve holistic medical care by providing health care professionals with constant, reliable information and data.
Imagine the doctor’s visit of the future; Sitting in bed with a laptop virtually meeting with the doctor to complain about your child’s bladder infection. Rather than relying on their memory to determine the number of times they’d been to the bathroom that day, wearable technology would relay the data precisely. If a hospital visit were necessary, scheduling technology would provide an appointment time and ensure all necessary doctor’s and equipment were available and present. Telemedicine, the Internet of Things, and wearable technology have the ability to eliminate white lies and human error, which would benefit doctor and patient alike.
Kali Muir is an ambitious freelance writer with a BA in Communications. She was born in Canada but has since lived in Norway, Denmark, and England. Her work experience is as diverse as her past addresses, including roles in technical communication, corporate communication, marketing, and article writing. She has experience working in varied business sectors: Oil & Gas, Engineering & Technology, Clothing & Equipment Retail, and Creative Writing. Follow Kali’s professional and personal journey at www.kalimuir.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.