Demand for remote health care has been increasing for years. Aging populations in Japan, Italy and other countries mean there is more demand for health care. At the same time, there are limits to providing care using traditional, expensive methods. Other trends, such as social distancing protocols, mean there is a need for greater flexibility and innovation in remote health care.
Here are three technologies that are improving health care today without putting anybody at risk of infection.
When you visit a nurse, doctor or other health care professionals, you are asked how you are feeling. If there is a problem, condition or illness, more detailed data is required. Without this data, there is no way to choose the right type of treatment. In many cases, health care professionals tend to request the same types of data: blood pressure, heart data (e.g., beats per minute), and your temperature. There are now ways to gather this data remotely.
The specific remote health care device you use will depend on your situation, budget and medical advice. To illustrate what is possible, consider looking at some of the more popular options on the market. For example, fitness tracker devices like the Fitbit watch can gather some data on your sleeping patterns and heart rate. Discuss whether with your health care provider, which device produces the right kind of data.
By using devices to collect health care data, patients can avoid traveling to clinics for minor check-ups and monitoring. That means you might be able to change from visiting a clinic each week and instead visit monthly. By reducing the number of visits to a hospital, you can reduce your chance of contracting a hospital-borne infection. For health care organizations, keeping track of this new flood of data requires a data management system. This system needs to be easy to use and use safeguards to ensure patient privacy is protected.
Gathering health data using devices is just the beginning. Patients also need the ability to ask questions and receive advice. Secure video conference call technology makes this much easier. For example, UC San Diego currently offers video visits with patients. To make life easier for patients, the organization provides digital prescriptions to medications along with video visits. In addition, the organization also has interpreters so patients can communicate more easily.
From a hardware perspective, there are several critical components required, such as high-quality cameras and audio equipment. For instance, a physician may want to hear how well a patient is breathing or observe coughing behavior. To get started, you can try using your smartphone provided it is relatively new and has a fully functional camera and microphone.
For the best remote health care results, consider combining smartphone-based video consultations with other devices. For example, a nurse could guide a patient on how to accurately take their temperature and report the results during a video consultation. This method of serving patients improves health care effectiveness because it makes measurement errors less likely. This type of guidance is needed because nursing research shows even nurses sometimes make mistakes when measuring patient temperature.
Delivering remote health care consultations by video is rapidly becoming more popular. It may not be a perfect substitute for a traditional clinic visit. However, it is another way to reduce the number of clinic visits over time.
So far, we have focused on ways to improve traditional health care treatments and services. That’s just part of the equation. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five US adults experiences mental illness each year, while one in 25 experiences serious mental illness annually. There are millions of people who need help. It is also essential to find remote health care strategies to address mental health needs like depression, anxiety and related needs.
This type of remote health care service can take several forms. For instance, Code Blue is a mental health app aimed at teenagers suffering from problems like depression. By offering mental health services remotely, teenagers may be more likely to seek help when they need it. Likewise, the PTSD Coach produced by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) makes it easier to do a self-assessment and connect with qualified professionals.
There is relatively less awareness about different mental health services available. Therefore, mobile apps, services and consultations that make such services more widely available are essential.
In 2020, we all learned how easily hospitals, clinics and other hospitals could become overwhelmed by people during a crisis. As a result, there is a greater urgency to offer more remote health care options. However, there are significant barriers to solve before telemedicine can become more widely available. Since remote health care involves less direct human contact, it is an excellent way to provide health care services without risking the spread of infections.
Unfortunately, financial barriers currently exist for remote health care. Some insurance companies do not cover remote health care services. That means patients may need to change insurance providers or pay out of pocket for remote health care for the foreseeable future.