Why Mobility Could One Day Save Your Life (and Business)

By Jay_McBain
In Marketing
August 28, 2012
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Jay McBain / Jay McBain

By: Jay McBain
One of the most exciting areas in healthcare is the
emergence of new telemedicine technologies. 
The use of long-distance video and data hookups linking remote community
hospitals with specialists in large centers is saving lives.  In fact, recent studies have shown that
telemedicine can provide the same level of care as having everyone in the same
room.
New technologies are being introduced that are significantly
improving the quantity and quality of patient outcomes.  Adding to this, a new level of specialization
is emerging, allowing a much broader application of these technologies:
Telecardiology                                  Telepsychiatry                                Teleradiology
Telepathology                                   Teledermatology                             Teledentistry
Telesurgery                                       Teletrauma                                     Telerehabilitation
Telepharmacy                                   Telenursing                                     Telestroke
Here are some key trends driving new possibilities and
challenges in remote healthcare:

Mobility – We are
currently experiencing the first phase of pervasive computing, where billions
of people will be leveraging trillions of devices and sensors.  The surge of smartphones and tablets,
combined with the saturation of laptops, is driving a global phenomenon where
society is connected all the time, regardless of location.  Thousands of new mobility products are emerging
such as the connected automobile, refrigerators, glass surfaces right down to
WiFi enabled toothbrushes.  Hundreds of
WiFi enabled medical device categories have also emerged from simple weight
scales, blood pressure monitors to more complex remote diagnostic equipment.

Ubiquitous
Connectivity
– One of the main limitations of early telemedicine solutions
was the cost/complexity of obtaining quality bandwidth.  According to the World Bank, over 75% of the
world’s population now has access to cell phones with over 6 billion devices
now in use.  These cell networks are
steadily improving and the majority of them now support seamless video across
broadband level speeds.

Cloud Computing
The transition of key healthcare applications into the cloud has been growing
steadily over the past few years.  It got
a relatively slow start due to factors such as country specific regulations,
fears of patient record security as well as industry demographics.  Applications are becoming smarter as more critical
information is shared and more accessible as mobility and connectivity are
driving more use cases.

Demographics – Doctors
entering the system now, the so-called “millennials”, were born into the PC
generation and have likely carried a mobile phone for over half their
lives.  In fact, a recent study reported
70% of younger doctors report they use their smartphone clinically.  Healthcare will continue the virtual trend as
baby boomer doctors retire and new generations of technology inclined doctors
take their place. 

Consumerization
With the growth of consumer devices for self-diagnosis and treatment, combined
with the proliferation of personal social networks, a number of potential
pitfalls could arise in delivering telemedicine.  Imagine diagnosing a patient in 140
characters over Twitter or an impromptu Skype session dealing with sensitive
medical issues.  While this may seem
insecure and ineffective, consumer behavior may demand the health industry
explore these mediums.
At the speed these new technologies are driving
telemedicine, there remains significant barriers to adoption in emergency and
critical care units. One major barrier is the regulatory challenges related to
the difficulty and cost of obtaining licensure across multiple states,
malpractice protection and privileges at multiple facilities. 
Another barrier is the lack of acceptance and reimbursement
by government payers and some commercial insurance carriers creating a major
financial barrier, which places the investment burden squarely upon the
hospital or healthcare system.  Finally,
cultural barriers exist driving a lack of desire of some doctors to adapt
clinical paradigms for telemedicine applications.

How do Technology Providers take advantage of these trends?
The future of healthcare will be very personal and in
real-time.  Facilities will need to be
connected with the latest video, audio and networking technologies to enable
specialists to connect with their patients immediately and deliver the quality
necessary to improve outcomes. 
Health professionals will need to be armed with these tools
regardless of their location. 
Telemedicine will evolve from point to point connections across
facilities to person to person across pervasive devices.  The doctor may be in his car while the
patient could be out in the middle of a farm field – with other specialists and
local emergency response teams all listening in.
The opportunities around consulting, integration, technology
deployment, remote management, industry compliance management and service will
grow significantly over the next 5 years. 
Understanding industry and technology trends and being able to deliver the
services, hardware and software to enable specialized solutions will be the
key.



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