Hardware And Software Used For Telemedicine

hardware and software for telemedicine

Medical workers are prepared with all of the instruments necessary to assess a patient when they enter a clinic or hospital. When healthcare workers see a patient online, they may not have the required technology to handle a telehealth interaction.

Telemedicine involves a significant amount of specialized gear and software. It might be difficult to estimate how much different hardware and software will cost.

You don’t have to be intimidated by the sheer volume of telemedicine solutions available. With the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing number of healthcare professionals are turning to telehealth as a handy approach to maintain their quality of treatment while businesses around the world reach new technological heights.

Telecommunications tools such as telephones, the internet, and computers are available to the majority of people. However, many telemedicine solutions necessitate more than just those essentials.

Telemedicine is here to stay, and the correct hardware and software solutions can ensure that a fully realized telehealth adoption benefits both clinicians and patients.

Let’s take a look at a few key hardware and software solutions that can help improve telehealth offerings.

Basic Telehealth Hardware Requirements

The hardware that helps link with patients assess the results, and monitor patients are the bedrock of a successful telemedicine system. It is better to consider the following:

1. Endpoints

In many circumstances, the only hardware required to adopt telemedicine is the laptops, cellphones, and tablets that your clinic and your patients already own. For example, tablets can be used as a digital clipboard to keep thorough notes on patients’ health that can be readily uploaded to EHR software. Patients can also use tablets to monitor their symptoms and report them directly to their clinicians in real-time.

2. Remote patient monitoring hardware

Many remote patient monitoring platforms offer web-based interfaces for remote monitoring of patient health data, and some also handle the delivery of essential monitoring devices to patients.

Smartwatches, blood pressure cuffs, ECG gadgets, thermometers, digital stethoscopes, scales, and other medical devices are now the most recommended option.

For example, many patients tend to miss their medications and this needs to be monitored. This issue takes on added urgency since studies demonstrate that only half of the chronic disease medications are used as prescribed.

To address this concern digital blood pressure cuffs (smart pills equipped with edible sensors) are being used to deliver a continuous stream of blood pressure and pulse data to a doctor that will alert their patients if they are taking their medications as prescribed.

The development of these remote patient monitoring hardware has made health monitoring easier than in the past.

3. Webcams

As Videoconferencing is typically the core component of telehealth, it needs to be backed up by hardware such as a camera and microphone. Video quality is an important aspect of a successful telehealth visit.

A high-quality video guarantees an accurate evaluation of your patient while also enhancing your professional image. If your specialty requires it, such as dermatology or other fields where a physical examination is required, it is wise to invest in a high-quality webcam for such meetings.

For example, Telehealth Specialists recommends the Logitech C930e for its excellent video and audio quality during teletherapy.

According to a survey, it was found that Secure Telehealth(health-care service provider) was able to use webcams, to connect clients to mental healthcare providers for timely, efficient, and effective care as they were easy for a nurse to install and maintain without any IT assistance.

The outcomes followed the physicians to be able to pick up on visual cues to better diagnose patient behaviors from a distance. The patients who otherwise were not receiving treatment, now have access to critical mental health services followed by more frequent and more timely appointments leading to improved patient outcomes.

4. Network hardware

In simpler implementations, the internet backbone, such as the router and modem supplied by an Internet company, may suffice. Videoconferencing should work fine as long as the practitioner and patient can achieve 15Mbps download and 5Mbps upload. Larger organizations transitioning to telemedicine may require connectivity updates to handle increased video traffic and security.

For example, Cisco DNA Spaces has created an open platform that sits at the crossroads of a diverse ecosystem of device and software partners for healthcare providers and can leverage patient outcomes by utilizing wireless technology and integrated network hardware solutions.

The outcome for this network hardware adoption included securely connecting physicians and patients and easing the data exchange across physical healthcare facilities for a more automated and sustainable experience.

It also leveraged location data to enable clinical operational efficiency, respond to staff duress, improve patient throughput capabilities, and monitor asset utilization.

It further made it easier for patients to use their own devices to find what they need via digital intake. While telemedicine services require a robust internet connection, even the most stable networks can fail at times. This data interruption can be resolved with a backup system. Any healthcare establishment should consider putting money into a fallback network.

5. Portable Systems, Workspaces and Tool kits

Healthcare professionals require a physical location to conduct remote sessions. It’s usually an existing office, although new hardware, such as standing desks for physicians, may be required. In practices where many doctors share devices to meet patients, telemedicine carts may be beneficial.

This consists of a  movable frame and utilizes a combination of cameras, monitors, keyboards, computers, and mobile medical instruments to make up this telemedicine equipment. With computers attached at the head and wheels at the foot, the carts can resemble standing work desks. These carts can be wheeled from room to room to either capture and send a patient’s medical data or provide consultation from another location.

Information can be stored while assessments are made, pictures can be taken, and live images can be viewed. This provides continuity of care as other clinicians in your system can access this information. Your portable system can also include various patient assessment tools as peripherals.

The patient assessment tool kit may contain digital stethoscopes, vital sign monitors, spirometers, probes, ECG systems, dermatologic or radiologic cameras, and more.

These carts are typically found in hospitals or other large healthcare facilities. However, in exceptional cases, a patient may have a telemedicine station set up in their house for convenient access.

However, If your clinic already has a basic hardware infrastructure in place and established workflows that are compatible with telemedicine, you may simply need to enhance it with particular software products as needed.

It’s vital to select telehealth software that is compatible with the services your healthcare facility offers. Sifting through the growing tangle of possibilities in the industry can be exhausting.

Here are some examples of tools to think about.

Top Telemedicine Softwares

1. Videoconferencing Software

Videoconferencing is typically the first step in telemedicine, and in several situations, it is all that is essential to communicate effectively with patients.

Patients can be visually connected with hospitals and physician clinics for routine checks, skilled nursing, and therapeutic consultations. Rural hospitals lack fast diagnosis chances due to telemedicine video conferencing platforms, so a specialist can interact with a healthcare practitioner in minutes to deliver treatment and life-saving diagnoses.

For example, WellSpace Health, a healthcare service company in the United States, sought to make sure that their phone system could keep up with their rapid expansion without adding more maintenance, administration, or systems. WellSpace Health required a centralized system with a single administration interface for all of its locations.

GoTo for Healthcare offered to solve this problem by introducing a healthcare-specific version of its videoconferencing technology whose cloud-based solution provided the ease of management.

The outcome for the scalability of GoToConnect has been a significant victory for WellSpace Health and its quick expansion rate. Also, the clarity of GoToConnect’s statistics has provided WellSpace Health with a realistic picture of their call traffic.

2. Remote Patient Assessment and Monitoring Software

Patients might utilize a medical device in their homes to track their glucose levels, monitor their heart rhythm, and record how they’re feeling.

Patients with chronic ailments and those recovering from a hospital stay are particularly fond of this form of telemedicine service.

Physicians may check in with their patients more regularly via remote patient monitoring, catching potential warning signals before they become problems, and providing patients with greater convenience and less danger.

According to a study, patients with increased engagement and participation with RPM were associated with improved glycemic control outcomes. Remote monitoring can be used by these patients to keep track of their glucose levels and pass on the data to their doctor.

A journey to the doctor’s office, for example, can be difficult for many people who are elderly or recovering from a significant injury or sickness.

Elderly patients in assisted living facilities or even at home can be inexpensively and conveniently monitored through this technique.

3. Store-and-forward Software for telemedicine

Telemedicine software that store and forward data are widely used around the world. This sort of telemedicine software enables patients or healthcare practitioners to submit medical data (such as pictures, vital sign data, and patient videos) to another medical professional for diagnosis or consultation.

For example, a primary care practitioner may discover a skin irregularity on a patient that necessitates a dermatologist’s diagnosis. The primary care physician can take a photo of the patient and securely communicate the photo and the patient’s electronic data to the dermatologist using store-and-forward telemedicine software.

The primary care doctor can take a photo of the patient and use store-and-forward telemedicine software to securely send the photo and the patient’s electronic record to the dermatologist. Then, the doctor can quickly get a response back on how to move forward.

A 2016 study led by Caroline A. Nelson, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine discovered that a store-and-forward teledermatology program provides ‘a unique and efficient method for offering dermatologic treatment to outpatients in resource-poor primary care settings.’

This type of telemedicine is an incredibly effective way to make healthcare more efficient, especially in areas where medical specialists are limited.

4. Real-time Telemedicine Software

Real-time telemedicine software necessitates real-time interaction between the patient and the healthcare professional. Consider a phone conversation, a forum, or a web video conference. In every situation, the patient and the clinician are both present and conversing at the same time.

While real-time telemedicine does necessitate scheduling coordination between the patient and the physician, it is the most akin to an in-person appointment.

In many circumstances, the physician can examine the patient and deliver treatment remotely using the patient’s history, live video or other visual information, and the patient’s remarks.

In addition to real-time telemedicine software, some mobile medical devices may be used to gather a patient’s vital signs or other health data instead of a physical checkup.

This sort of telemedicine software is used in teleneuropsychology. Individuals who have, or are suspected of having, a cognitive problem can receive consultation and examination over the phone. Video technology is used to assess the patient using standard evaluation processes.

According to a 2017 study, this strategy offers a reliable and practical alternative to traditional face-to-face consultations.
Real-time telemedicine software like the eVisit app initiated remote appointments using 2-way video while being less expensive. It proved to be a big success at CMG by meeting better patient needs, improving revenue by $600,000, and reducing costs.

5. Telemedicine Kiosks

Instead of booking an appointment at a doctor’s office, patients can walk right into a telemedicine kiosk and interact with a healthcare professional, receiving near-instant feedback on everything from cold and flu to post-surgery follow-ups or a pink-eye.

It’s similar to a booth where they can talk to a doctor on a big rectangular screen. Primary care providers can gather all of the information to decide the next stages in a patient’s workup using digital otoscopes, digital stethoscopes, and a variety of other sensors.

When they are finished, they automatically send the patient a PDF of the meet-up and forward any prescription medications to the patient’s nearby drugstore.

Kiosks will be accessible for everything from counseling sessions to nutrition advice, physiotherapy, and basic obstetric care. Well, almost every medical need can be taken care of by stepping into a Kiosk.

For example, Insurance firms have begun to see the perks of telemedicine kiosks. Telemedicine services are covered by health insurance such as Anthem, Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and United Healthcare. “This is simply a way of offering health care services, which were already offered, in a more convenient form.

What Makes a Good Telehealth Software

We’ve now gone over the most common telemedicine solutions. But what about the various features that telemedicine software should include? When reviewing any telemedicine software package, there are five things to look for.

1. Security

Telemedicine software must be 100% secure and HIPAA compliant because it is frequently used to save, transfer, or access personal patient health information.

Telemedicine software should not be utilized in the same way that other normal virtual portals are used for video conferencing.

2. Patient Records

Patient visits conducted via telemedicine must also be documented. Many telemedicine software systems allow providers to transfer any visit notes into a patient’s electronic health record (EHR), allowing them to store everything in one place and up to date.

Some may also combine with an EHR system to ensure that records are kept in one place.

3. Intuitive Design

Telemedicine software should be simple to use for both medical providers and patients. The greatest telemedicine software follows best practices in user interface design to provide an enhanced user experience.

Less the time and training needed to get both the healthcare professional and the patient on board, ever more instinctive and straightforward the design is. Technology should be a help, not a hindrance

4. Minimal Set-up

There are numerous telemedicine software options available. Certain programs with any related equipment necessitate significant setup and training to learn how to utilize them.

Some solutions include a dedicated telemedicine unit as well as mobile medical equipment, while others only require a PC with a microphone and webcam.

While the demands of each healthcare professional vary, the finest telemedicine software should entail little set-up and consulting to get underway.

5. ePrescription

Telemedicine technologies are designed to make healthcare delivery more accessible. For healthcare providers, a practice like sending medication orders to pharmacists can be time-consuming. That is why an ePrescribe capability should be included in telemedicine software.

This allows a physician to send a prescription electronically rather than calling or contacting the pharmacy.

Telemedicine Hardware and Software: The Bottom Line

When it comes to telemedicine, there will be no turning back. Virtual healthcare’s widespread usage will undoubtedly continue to increase well beyond 2022.

Having the right telemedicine hardware and software in place can help hospitals and clinics run more efficiently. This innovative technology would make it easier to keep track of patients who have been discharged and supervise their recovery.

Striking the right balance between hardware and software can help telemedicine produce a win-win situation both for patients and healthcare providers.

As the healthcare landscape changes, your workflow will need to change as well.

Considering how your telemedicine strategic plan might be enhanced via these solutions and extended upon performance in sustaining and improving patients’ health, is the real deal.