What if you don’t need to go to the doctor for any small issues anymore? An intriguing question that has been lately on the news. The doctor visit from your home sofa to gain a diagnose, evaluate the need of care or have a check up meeting with your doctor is a reality.
In a broad sense, telemedicine refers exactly to this: to the remote delivery of health care services using information and communication technologies (ICTs). This premise holds a great value for both rural and urban areas as it provides an opportunity to overcome the physical barriers of meeting a health care professionals (HCPs) by connecting users who are not in the same physical location. In addition, the digital health field is growing in demand and the investments in it reached $3.9 billion during the first half of 2016, which is more than ever.
There are many factors driving this growth, including the need for faster and “leaner” approaches to healthcare delivery, but also the ICTs evolution plays a big role, which opens the door for great possibilities in the healthcare industry, such as telemedicine. Let’s take a look to some interesting initiatives and approved products regarding the topic of remote doctor visit.
Teleconsultation- visit your doctor online
First of all, there are multiple approaches which allows you to experience telemedicine, for instance via mobile app or software. Swedish Kry is a great example of such a service. You can meet a doctor online in order to get prescription, advice or referrals. Also, as the use of social media is common among a younger population, one of the biggest Finnish private health care providers, Mehiläinen has a service for young females to ask questions to HCPs related to sexual health via Snapchat, the service is called Snäppiklinikka (snap clinic).
The online visits to the doctor are not only for general care, but you can access specialized services through various online tools. For example, in the US you can find a teledentistry service called MouthWatch’s Teledent™, which allows dentists to remotely see their patients and advise them with dental care. Furthermore, you can have a dermatologist appointment online for example, via SkyMD or Dermio in order to receive a diagnosis or treatment, both of these services are based on photos or videos sent privately to a doctor for its online consultation.
Remote diagnostics tools
As the doctor televisits are gaining momentum and becoming more popular, so are other supportive tools. FDA approved Tytocare’s digital examination tool just a while ago: TytoHome. This tool can be used for examining heart rate and rhythm, various lung conditions, ear and throat infections and skin symptoms from home. Thus, the telemedicine services are not anymore based only on patient-reported symptoms or self-taken pictures and this could be really a boosting fact for telehealth services, as it would contribute to their legitimization by providing more objective services.
So, could it be possible that in the future diagnostics services might be done at home with the patient’s mobile? For example, Accel Diagnostics has already a diagnostic test seeking for FDA approval. Likewise, Scanadu Urine is an at-home urine test used for maternal and women’s health seeking for FDA approval.
Check-ups from your home sofa (remote monitoring or telemonitoring)
Digital health is transcending platforms and it is being used for the wireless transformation of medical devices. For instance, HealthPatch® MD is an FDA cleared and CE marked biosensing platform for the short-term monitoring of vital signs in patients who were recently discharged from a hospital, subsequently, information is secured in a HIPAA-compliant cloud-based storage. Similarly, Isansys Lifecare’s system also gained regulatory approval for wireless patient monitoring.
Another example is AdhereTech. A smart wireless pill bottle used by patients for the real-time monitoring of their treatment compliance. A very useful product for the improvement of health outcome by the analysis of patient’s adherence data.
The digital era
The future of digital health is promising, but also challenging. Big data from real-world and real-time patients demands data protection to secure their privacy. To align together the healthcare system to work in the best interest of patients is a priority, and it needs evolve with the current digital technologies.
The digitalization of healthcare can open many doors for innovation, but some questions have arisen: Who controls the patient data? How can we transcend from big data to smart data? and, How can we offer full cyber protection to patients?
One thing is sure, only time will tell.
The digital health revolution
Do you want to read more about digital health trends? Take a look at our post about Slush.
Credits for the co-author of this post: Kristal M. This girl is pure gold!