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January 19, 2022updated 02 Mar 2022 10:53am

Virtual Care and Telemedicine: Technology trends

By GlobalData Thematic Research

Listed below are the key technology trends impacting the virtual care and telemedicine theme, as identified by GlobalData.

The integration of new and existing digital technologies such as telehealth, connected medical devices, remote monitoring, mobile device apps, and electronic health records, can help healthcare systems expand their services to patient populations in the most convenient manner.

5G

The full-scale mainstream adoption of 5G, which is still a few years away, has the potential to increase data consumption globally. 5G is expected to enable faster speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second (Gbps) per user, and to connect around one million devices per square kilometre. 5G is also likely to have a significant impact on applications that rely on real-time data analytics. For example, it will allow for better remote patient monitoring systems and the sharing of high-resolution medical images. 5G will therefore allow healthcare to fully embrace digitisation and to create new ways of treating patients. Virtual care methods will benefit immensely from this technology.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

One of the benefits of using AI technology is that it can greatly improve data quality. This improvement is needed within any analytics-driven organisation where the proliferation of personal, public, cloud, and on-premise data has made it nearly impossible for IT to keep up with user demand.

AI tools are required to organise, screen, and analyse personal health data. As a result, it will help extract insights about healthcare trends, track patients over time, and forecast the likelihood of developing a disease.

Cloud

As computing moves from in-house corporate data centres to third-party cloud data centres, corporations need to buy less of their own IT equipment. The rise in the use of cloud computing in the healthcare industry has allowed for a more scalable, cost-effective, and interconnected method of storing and sharing health data.

Cloud computing brings numerous benefits to telehealth. For instance, telehealth systems require rapid deployment capabilities which cloud computing provides. Additionally, cloud facilitates the use of telehealth by providing the connection between remote patients without the need for centralisation.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The IoT is a system of wireless, interrelated, and connected digital devices that can collect, send, and store data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. The technology provides faster connectivity that allows a range of medical devices to be connected to a server. As a result, telemedicine technology can function efficiently with the use of real-time data from these devices, allowing high quality virtual care.

Cybersecurity

While rapid integration of telemedicine into traditional healthcare systems benefits medical personnel, healthcare systems, and patients, the number of cyberattacks in the healthcare industry continues to increase. Various healthcare facilities are particularly sensitive to cyberattacks due to the nature of the information they contain. Telemedicine has been adopted so rapidly that there was little to no time to ensure all the necessary cybersecurity precautions were met.

Healthcare institutions must quickly increase their cybersecurity against cyberattacks in order to avoid financial and clinical losses. Additionally, improving cybersecurity and the way that data from newly adopted technologies is collected and managed will increase acceptance among patients and medical professionals.

Wearable devices

Wearable devices use sensors to measure various vital signs such as heart rate, glucose levels, and blood pressure. This data is then transmitted for real-time feedback. Much of this data may end up being recorded in electronic health records (EHRs). The market for wearables has continued to grow in the past few years, and the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted the implementation and development of wearable devices at a much faster rate.

Wearables can track real-time biometric signals across a large segment of the population without the constant monitoring of a healthcare professional. This function became incredibly useful throughout the pandemic as it reduced the number of unnecessary hospital visits, thus allowing the optimisation and the allocation of resources in hospitals and healthcare systems.

Additionally, the increasing use of consumer wearables in the form of smartwatches, hearables, and fitness trackers in the healthcare industry is having a profound effect on how healthcare is being delivered. For example, research projects are now using data accumulated from these trackers to analyse a variety of health outcomes and disease states.

This is an edited extract from the Virtual Care and Telemedicine – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.

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