Teleconferencing technology, pioneered by companies like Cisco, has made the corporate world more connected. It’s now common for teams on opposite ends of the globe, which were once limited to phone and email communication, to use video conferencing to better collaborate on projects and documents in real time.
Telemedicine is the embodiment of this type of technology in healthcare. However, it has far greater potential and will eventually bring basic medical care out of clinics and hospitals and into the patient’s home. St. Louis, Missouri’s Mercy Virtual Care Center is a four-story, 125,000-square foot “hospital without beds” and has monitored over 3,800 patients remotely since 2006. Virtual-care nurses examine patients over video chat and patients can use wireless vital-sign monitors to measure the likes of blood pressure and heart rate, with the data sent directly to the nurse.
In the future, wireless patches containing various sensors will replace this range of different monitors. And video conferencing will be incorporated into advanced telemedicine robots that will allow doctors and nurses to remotely perform more comprehensive visual examinations and medical imaging.
When telemedicine is genuinely an everyday technology, it will allow older patients to remain more independent and comfortable by staying in their home, yet know that they are still being monitored and cared for by their doctors. Clinicians will be able to serve a broader range of patients, devote more in-person resources to those that need it most, and see a more comprehensive view of their patients’ health as they go about their normal activities of daily living.