The Covid-19 pandemic led to the growth of technology and opened doors for the much-awaited digital acceleration. As per a report published by IBM, a computer hardware company in New York, the coronavirus pandemic enhanced digital transformation by 59 percent of the companies surveyed.
The need to manage crises at hand urged businesses to promote digital workplace, which was promptly adapted by the healthcare industry as well, especially the telemedicine sector. The year 2020 saw a significant rise in the number of telemedicine users.
Amongst the American adults surveyed, 43 percent were reported utilizing telemedicine through video calling in 2020. This increasing growth of telemedicine is due to the rise in the adoption of various technologies by companies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For instance, ViewMyID Health, LLC, based in Indiana, is on the verge of launching a new platform for medical ID. Features included in this platform are counseling, telemedicine, 24/7 emergency calling, and medication alarms.
Apart from this, big data is another technology that is leaving an impact on telemedicine in the current times. But what exactly is telemedicine and big data? Let’s find out!
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine implies the usage of software and electronic mode of communication to offer healthcare services to the patients. There is no involvement of face-to-face diagnosis or visits.
Some of the examples of telemedicine applications are Amwell, Doctor on Demand, Talkspace, MDLive, PlushCare, Teladoc, and many more.
Telemedicine is often used for managing chronic conditions, follow-ups, specialist consultations, medications, and other medical services that can be delivered remotely. Telemedicine comes with a range of benefits for elevating patients’ overall experience as well.
What is Big Data?
Big data is a compilation of data that is present in enormous volume (structured and unstructured) and increases with time. Also, big data is difficult to manage and is utilized for gaining insights to improve decisions and strategies of businesses.
Some of the best examples of big data in today’s time are social media, New York Stock Exchange, and Google.
How is Big Data Advancing Telemedicine?
The popularity of telemedicine is on the rise due to enhanced patient experience and the assured safety provided during the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are numerous ways in which big data is pushing the telemedicine services which are as follows:
1. Monitoring Patients
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a feature offered by telemedicine applications to acquire patient data. RPM devices send messages between providers and patients. At specific points throughout the day, patients monitor themselves to acquire data on their health conditions, then transmit this data securely to physicians.
Post which, healthcare professionals access this data from their clinics or hospitals to make daily or hourly recommendations. By adjusting each treatment procedure, and monitoring patients’ health, physicians can alter prescriptions if needed.
If a patient is released from a healthcare facility, remote monitoring gadgets are used to continue treatment.
Health monitoring encompasses the usage of devices to offer data on crucial aspects such as heart rate, blood pressure, sugar levels, and SpO2. Clinicians can collect massive data through RPM as compared to traditional patient visits.
This is beneficial for patients with high-risk heart conditions, complex pregnancies, or dementia. RPM can be a life saver for patients due to real-time data exchange. This type of monitoring helps physicians to track the health of high-risk patients outside hospitals.
Multiple RPM programs launched by UVA (University of Virginia Health System), were targeted for chronic patients. Its Advanced Diabetes Management Clinic tracked glucose levels of patients and alerted if the readings took a dangerous turn. Moreover, retinopathy screenings were held remotely for diabetic patients.
Through this program, heart patients were offered tablets for updating their vital signs and for participating in the online physical activity and education sessions.
Remote monitoring of patients aids in estimating life-threatening situations and keeps the patients to get healthier in the long run. Also, real-time data of patients can help the physicians to administer medication, change dosages, and upsurge health.
Mary Jahrsdoerfer, director of graduate healthcare informatics at Adelphi University College of Nursing and Public Health (New York), says that with intuitive predictive data at their disposal, clinicians can make appropriate care decisions without being inundated by alarms.
Remote patient monitoring improves the quality of patient care and improves patient engagement with health drastically. The patterns and trends of technology have planted seeds of smartphone revolution in the USA.
With 97 percent of Americans owning a smartphone, the comfort level of managing health with telemedicine is gaining traction overtime.
2. Precise Diagnosis
Generally, a traditional diagnostic process involves a patient communicating issues to a doctor and receiving accurate remedy for the illness. However, with the introduction of big data in telemedicine, information is acquired from patients through healthcare applications, wearable devices, and electronic records of patients.
These devices can be used to recommend prescriptions for each patient based on their ailment. Apart from this, the physician and the patient need not be in the same geographical location for healthcare analysis. Knowledge provided by patients is enough to make decisions and determine diagnosis.
With this in mind, care in the rural community can be improved substantially. For instance, AnMed Health Cannon, a hospital located in the rural area of South Carolina, approached telemedicine for the betterment of clinical potential at night and to enhance access.
With custom telemedicine, this hospital was able to increase admissions by 26 percent per month and saw reduction in healthcare delays with growth in patient satisfaction.
Diagnosis based on the data is a promising tactic for surging accessibility and delivery of care. In specialties such as radiology, ophthalmology, cardiology, and dermatology, diagnosis is based on the images captured by patients or technicians.
Telemedicine may tweak healthcare and create opportunities in specialties as the image capture and scrutiny of information may be standardized.
3. Predictive Analytics
Predictive analytics helps physicians to make choices based on the information provided by the patients. This anticipates the future scenario based on the patterns highlighted in past data.
Therefore, aiding healthcare professionals to be one step ahead all the time. Predictive analytics is quite useful in intensive care units or emergency care, where a person is in a life-or-death situation. Here, quick reactions and a sense that something is wrong plays a vital role.
This aspect is vital for patients suffering from sickness and complicated ailments. Moreover, healthcare practitioners can predict clinical conditions ahead of time, and how it may affect the patient.
Analytics provides a heads up on when to deploy resources for follow-ups and how to design protocols for readmission to the hospitals. Also, estimating a problem ahead of time even after the patient is out of a care facility helps to avoid post-treatment illnesses such as sepsis.
For instance, predictive analytical tools at the University of Pennsylvania, leverages on EHR and machine learning data to track sepsis 12 hours before its commencement.
Technology such as IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) is utilized to acquire healthcare data of patients via huge data analytics. This enormous data is called big medical data and cannot be processed with traditional applications and algorithms. Hence, IoMT analytics comes into the picture for smart healthcare.
4. Cloud-based EHR
A cloud-based electronic health record is a flexible, scalable, cost-effective, and intuitive solution for preserving patients’ data on cloud. Ginormous healthcare information about patents can be stored as EHR (Electronic Health Record) on cloud.
This assures that the data can be provided to any medical expert worldwide as and when needed. This is useful if the patient’s diagnosis is to be finished remotely.
A cloud-based electronic health record is like the traditional EHR in terms of basic aspects and functions. Both are designed to gather patient data, maintaining records, organizing, sorting, and compiling information for accurate communication with the healthcare professionals and patients.
A cloud EHR is a convenient option for independent, small, and community hospitals that cannot afford on-premises electronic health records incorporation. Cloud EHR, doesn’t require users to make advance investments in systems. Some health and technology companies offer cloud-based solutions with flexible payment options.
Furthermore, EHR not only saves time for patients and physicians, but also reduces expenses. For instance, as per AJMC (American Journal of Management), patients who use electronic health records at hospitals pay $730 less than the facilities who don’t use EHR.
Cloud-based EHR runs on the web and doesn’t require hardware or software installation, thus it can be incorporated with minimum costs. With this advantage, even the small healthcare centers can afford EHR services.
5. Utilization of Drones
In March 2021, inventors from the University of Cincinnati partnered to develop a new drone prototype for dispatching medicine or healthcare supplies right at people’s doorsteps. The drone is equipped with cameras and a screen to enable patient-physician communication.
Drones prove to be useful to gather healthcare data and to provide reconnaissance during a disaster. They can help to deploy healthcare supplies and medicines in urban and rural areas, which may not be accessible otherwise.
Drones can be used for vaccine delivery, blood transportation, organ transfers, diagnostics, and deployment of small medical devices.
Currently, flying authorization lies with medical helicopters, airlines, police helicopters, tourist helicopters, private jets, and many more. Drone manufacturers must convey that they can fly safely and avoid any obstacles automatically.
For instance, in the USA, safety of a drone is determined by the population below the flying area. The lower the population the lower the chances a drone will harm anyone.
The Case For Big Data In Telemedicine
Big data in telemedicine has opened lucrative opportunities and will continue to grow in the upcoming years as well. This is just a start of the telemedicine sector; much more is yet to come. With technology such as big data, this will rise and upgrade significantly in the future years.