Telemedicine and Digital Health

During the epidemic, telemedicine has received a lot of attention. With stay-at-home orders keeping much of the world’s population at home, technology that facilitates remote communication with physicians and allows for patient monitoring has become even more important. U.S. healthcare providers have reported a 175-fold increase in telemedicine admissions (i.e., the number of appointments where a patient communicates with a physician via voice or video chat) since the outbreak began. Furthermore, the pressure the pandemic has placed on the global healthcare system has revealed a wide range of opportunities to modernize healthcare through the more effective use of technology and digitization.

“Expand health coverage. “

Half of the world’s population lacks basic medical services. Part of this is due to remote locations, distance from resources or healthcare professionals. Telemedicine helps extend essential medical services to these people.

In rural America, where 120 hospitals have closed since 2010, telemedicine is gaining in popularity and showing early success. According to a recent survey by National Public Radio (NPR), 24% of rural adults said they had used telemedicine and 90% said they were satisfied. To benefit both the individual and the healthcare system, the use of rural telemedicine can limit the number of patients referred from rural areas to emergency services in more developed areas. However, the lack of broadband network in rural areas is one of the constraints, but the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) committed $200 million in July 2020 to improve rural telemedicine infrastructure, which has a positive effect on service. popularization of high-speed networks and 5G technology.

Economic conditions are also one of the reasons why people drop out of treatment. In Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, 17% of adults say financial concerns are driving their unmet medical needs, and telehealth can help reduce those costs. In the United States, health plan operator Anthem reduced the total payment for telehealth consultations to $5, compared to $25-35 for in-person primary care consultations, showing a huge disparity. The immediate value of a single consultation is obvious, but the combined cost savings of follow-up can result in cost savings that positively impact the indifference curve of patients seeking medical care.

Overall, the American Veterans Medical Association estimates annual savings of $6,500 per patient who participates in telehealth. You can save even more by adding travel costs. Between 1996 and 2013, the UC Davis Health System found that telehealth saved patients $2.9 million in direct travel costs and nine years of travel time. While parity means lower cost per service usage for providers, the benefits of overall cost savings, convenience, and demand fulfillment drive telemedicine use more than enough to offset any lost revenue.

For example, patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) require dynamic risk identification and timely intervention to manage their physical condition. In an analysis of congestive heart failure studies, researchers found that patients who used telemedicine had a 15% to 56% reduction in mortality compared to patients who did not use telemedicine (18 of 19 studies). Another study looked at the effect of telemedicine on improving medication adherence in patients with severe mental illness. The results showed that, after six months, the population of patients using telemedicine was more likely to adhere to the medication.

Internet of Things (IoT) medical devices, connected wearables, and self-reporting mobile health apps are further bringing the physical distance between healthcare professionals and patients, enabling monitoring outside of traditional medical institutions. In 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an edible pill with a built-in sensor for treating schizophrenia, mania, bipolar disorder and depression in adults. The pills are synchronized with the wearable patch, which communicates with the smartphone and generates information about the medication taken, which is useful for both patients and healthcare professionals.

In addition to compliance monitoring, this technology allows clinicians to monitor a patient’s condition and obtain vital information remotely. Remote Intensive Care Units (eICUs) are equipped with a large number of networked devices, including cameras, ventilators and monitoring systems that track vital signs such as body temperature, oxygen saturation, electrocardiogram, heart rate, blood pressure and more. . Data show that these centers can reduce patient mortality by 15-60% and reduce the average length of hospital stay by an average of 30%.

On a smaller scale, self-managing connected medical devices can provide clinicians with similar information while also giving patients control over their self-care, especially important for the treatment of lifelong chronic conditions such as type 1 diabetes. Historically, this condition required careful monitoring of blood glucose levels and management of insulin medication. But now IoT-powered devices such as continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and insulin pumps greatly simplify the process and can automatically check blood sugar levels, dispense predicted doses of medication, and organize health-related data in an accessible way. .

Combining the data collected by the above devices, healthcare apps, etc., with genomic information and data from the broader medical system, can play a role in disease prevention. Artificial intelligence (AI) can use this data to find established patterns for accurate treatment and intelligent diagnosis. As of January 2020, the FDA has approved more than 60 different AI algorithms for medical use, primarily algorithms for analyzing medical exams and images, including those for analyzing characteristics of thyroid nodules, detecting liver and lung lesions, and detecting breast cancer. accuracy is on par with radiologists.

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