Digital Health

The near future of remote healthcare solutions

Waracle
28th January 2021
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https://waracle.com/blog/digital-health/the-near-future-of-remote-healthcare/
Healthcare professionals

The advent of affordable and ubiquitous connectivity through the internet connected, sensor rich devices that we carry around all day, everyday, has given us the motivation to take control of our health.

As we access the tools to manage our physical health whenever, wherever, we see a growing trend of healthcare professionals also looking to work remotely and flexibly from home offices, wherever they are in the world.

From Dermatologists to Psychotherapists, Developmental Pediatricians to General Practitioners, there are a huge range of roles and functions which can be delivered in conjunction with the right technologies without the need for in-person appointments.

This flexibility means that healthcare professionals can work outside of the 8am – 6pm cycle, they can work in different time zones and to a schedule that reflects their lifestyle or family needs.

Whilst this isn’t necessarily a reality today, like so many professions the role of healthcare professional is being disrupted by the proliferation of technology and connectivity, so it could be a reality sooner than you think. Let’s take a look at some examples and their benefits.

Video Consultations

In late 2019, the idea of video consultations would have been pretty far from most healthcare professional’s minds, yet by mid-2020, just 6 months later, it had become a mainstay of patient interaction.

Many people who previously would have felt uncomfortable even utilising existing, dependable technologies such as the phone to discuss their physical, mental and emotional states were now discussing their issues via video, which not only allowed healthcare professionals to review visual cues and body language, but also gave visual information to aid diagnosis.

According to a study by the BBC in 2019 less than 1% of all GP appointments during that year were conducted via video call. This incredibly low base will show the meteoric rise in video call use in 2020 and into 2021, but the real story is in the change of attitudes, behaviours and motivations. 

If patients feel more comfortable in the security, fidelity and usefulness of the service, it can adapt to create scalable access to healthcare professionals both when the patient wants and when the healthcare professional wants. No longer is the relationship time bound by the opening hours of a physical practice.

telemedicine

Remote Adherence Monitoring

Medication adherence is vital to ensuring positive outcomes for patients. The efficacy of a treatment is sometimes only likely if the prescribed drugs are ingested as instructed both by volume and by timeframe.

Digital technologies are assisting in making medication or treatment adherence monitoring a remote job. From mobile applications with push notifications to digital pillboxes, smart injection devices to ingestible sensors, these technologies all aim to ensure that the time bound motivation for patient action is driven remotely, data is captured and communicated to provide remote access to information.

The value in the technological advancements are that digital data capture occurs at the moment of action and doesn’t rely on in person motivation or monitoring, freeing up vital resources to be deployed elsewhere.

Virtual wards

The advent of virtual wards has allowed patients access to the care they need from home, rather than in hospital. Through the digitisation of services and by facilitating multiple care relationships, virtual wards can not only reduce hospital admissions, but shorten the stay where applicable, freeing up vital space when needed.

The integration of multiple healthcare data streams from clinicians to carers, family members to GPs, means that health services will be able to proactively manage the supply of care space in hospitals and other institutions, when demand increases and therefore create a balance both in flexibility, volume management and access.

Virtualising the healthcare environment can in some instances actually create an ecosystem of better patient support, as previously disparate and discrete services will occur in one place via connected digital technologies, empowering transparency.

Employee L&D 

In life sciences the need for continuous professional development is key and whilst the in-person learning experience may not be an option in Q1 2021, digital toolkits are creating the kind of access and engagement that has empowered remote learning throughout COVID-19.

Whether it is through use of content hubs, video tutorial databases, learning communities and forums or by leveraging nascent technologies like augmented reality to provide learning experiences, the opportunity to create momentum in employee L&D has never been greater.

As an employee or contractor, many of the mandatory and discretionary training modules would have previously been delivered by individuals to a room full of employees, at the cost of hiring venues, catering, lead trainers and each of the employees’ time in turn. 

Whereas training can now be delivered asynchronously alongside workload management at a fraction of the cost by leveraging digital technologies. This change to CPD is likely to stick, as it is not only more flexible but can be designed and implemented to capture more data and better information about the employee success rates.

Waracle are a software development agency of passionate technologists, who believe that the sensor-rich smartphones that we are habituated to can create positive, purposeful and lasting change in how we manage our physical and mental health. If you are interested in finding out more about our digital health credentials, please get in touch with our team today!