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FIVE WAYS BIG DATA IS ADVANCING TELEMEDICINE

Published Thursday, April 26, 2018
by Valerie Romero

April 26, 2018

by Valarie Romero via Arizona Telemedicine Program

The way we view healthcare is changing—patients are starting to expect more convenient options and have access to more information about their health. New technology has helped telehealth become a reality for many patients without easy access to healthcare facilities h fill gaps in specialty care via telemedicine, and made it possible for patients to play a larger role in their own care. However, there are still obstacles ahead of widespread telemedicine adoption that will need to be addressed.. Both telemedicine and analytics are major areas of interest for healthcare IT investors, reaching $197 million (analytics) and $171 million (telehealth) in 2016. These two areas go hand in hand, as big data analytics are helping advance telemedicine, while empowering both physicians and patients.

Here are five ways big data is playing a role in telehealth.

1. Remote patient monitoring

Smart devices are the future of telehealth monitoring, and they rely on the power of big data. These “Internet of Medical Things” (IoMT) devices are internet-connected and perform a variety of specialized functions. They and communicate with one another, as well as cloud health information systems that use algorithms to process the data streams and alert healthcare teams of trends and values that signify potential problems and require healthcare provider analysis and possible intervention. While commercial “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices often focus on home goods, such as smart thermostats, IoMT in healthcare focuses primarily on remote patient monitoring.

Remote health monitoring involves the use of smart devices to provide real-time data on patient vital measurements such as blood pressure and heart rate. This system of monitoring can help keep high-risk individuals out of the hospital, and allow doctors, patients and caregivers to track the patient’s overall health. This not only helps to predict life-threatening events and keeps more patients out of the hospital, it cuts down on costs and allows patients to live healthier, more comfortable lives. Real-time data can even help doctors administer correct medication dosages. Smart devices will soon be a staple in the healthcare industry. By 2020, an estimated 40 percent of IoT devices will have healthcare applications.

2. Easier, more accurate diagnostics

One disadvantage of telemedicine is that the doctor cannot rely on his or her physical touch or listen to the patient’s heart or stomach. Because of this, diagnostics can be more difficult when patients are not on site. Using a patient’s electronic health records, combined with the doctor’s observations, can help identify high-risk patients and diagnose patients more effectively.

Using data to diagnose in telemedicine is important, especially in situations when a patient cannot get to a doctor. patient’s vital signs and status information a doctor could potent Doctors can use big data to bring in contextual data and potentially useful external information, in addition to the limited information available from patients in remote areas, to help with the diagnosis.

3. Drone applications for disasters

Telehealth is also becoming an important part of disaster relief, getting to pe ople in a terrible situation. They may be stuck, or help may not be able to reach them yet, which is where drones and data can help.

Drones use and collect data to navigate and perform reconnaissance after a disaster.They can show healthcare and disaster relief officials what’s really going on at the ground level, then be deployed to deliver supplies and medical equipment to areas where they’re most needed. Eventually, drones may be used to deliver supplies to patients in rural and urban areas not facing disaster. Drones have already demonstrated their ability to deliver defibrillators in advance of paramedics arriving on scene.

4. Leveraging healthcare apps

Many problems become major issues because they are not caught quickly. Patients who make a point to monitor their own health and share that information with their healthcare providers could potentially catch a health problem early enough to treat it. Healthcare apps that patients can use on their smartphones, and the data they provide, can help telehealth providers advise, diagnose, and treat patients. These apps can help patients collect vital data for their providers while helping them make healthier decisions and be more aware of how they can positively impact their own care. It is important for patients to consult with their doctors about the apps and technologies that they are using to measure their health in order to make sure that they are using technology that provides accurate measurements. Patients that use technology that has not been clinically validated through rigorous research and not been reviewed and approved by the FDA may be putting themselves at risk due to inaccurate and unreliable measurements, faulty algorithms, or false claims about the capabilities and benefits of a product. Many apps and associated devices available to consumers without a prescription are marketed as entertainment technologies that are not meant to diagnose or treat patients.

5. Improve outcomes

By 2020, there will be an estimated 2314 exabytes of healthcare data. Overall, big data from remote patient monitoring technologies will give telehealth providers the information they need to track patients and improve their outcomes. Remote patient monitoring can alert patients and their healthcare teams when interventionis needed. Combining the power of telehealth with the power of big data can help reduce unnecessary visits to the doctor or hospital, while alerting providers and patients when their status necessitates in-person care.