• Irma Rastegayeva

Enabling Technology for Telemedicine

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

With the Coronavirus Pandemic intensifying around the world, Telemedicine is experiencing a surge in popularity and use. But its “overnight success” during COVID-19 is only possible because of the work that has been done in the last decade or so, and also because of the availability of the many enabling technologies that make it possible.

The benefits of Telemedicine were numerous even before the Coronavirus Pandemic made this technology vital. For years, the driving factors for Telehealth adoption by patients included time and cost savings, stigma for certain specialties (like mental health), physical immobility, or lack of qualified providers in the area. With cases of COVID-19 in the US quickly rising to surpass one million, and most of the country under stay-at-home orders, Telemedicine is quickly becoming an essential service that allows healthcare to be safe for both medical providers and patients.

Before the coronavirus, more than 75% of medical resources were used to treat patients with chronic health conditions, the majority of them being the elderly. These are the exact populations that are at higher risk of serious, even deadly, complications from COVID-19. For the elderly and patients with chronic conditions, telemedicine combined with technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), wearables and voice-activated services, powered by 5G, allows for remote patient monitoring and inclusion of patient’s family and caregivers in communications with the doctor and in treatment decisions.

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is a healthcare-specific subset of the Internet of Things (IoT). This massive network is poised to include billions of low-bit rate and low-energy connected health monitoring devices, remote sensors, and clinical wearables, with 5G providing a backbone infrastructure for IoT. Doctors already rely on these devices to collect and electronically transmit their patients’ data. The data is received in real time, allowing healthcare providers to efficiently analyse it, derive insights, and administer or adjust treatments. On the diagnostics and prevention side, this data will also allow doctors to increase the accuracy of their diagnoses and therefore effectiveness of treatments.

The Telehealth market expansion will be significantly impacted in the positive and lasting way by the COVID-19 / Coronavirus Pandemic.

The annual global IoT revenue in healthcare is expected to surpass $27 Billion by the year 2025. And IHS Markit predicts that 5G will enable more than $1 Trillion in products and services for the global health care sector.

The global Telemedicine market size was valued at $45 Billion in 2019 and is expected to grow 19.3% from 2020 to 2026 to reach $175 Billion by 2026 (Global Market Insights, April 2020). North America is expected to maintain the largest share of the global market.

To explore the various enabling technologies for telemedicine, John Lynn invited Evan and I to guest host the #HITsm Twitter Chat on Friday May 8, 2020.

On the chat, we discussed the following topics:

T1: What are the most important technologies to enable Telemedicine?

T2: What is the role/responsibility of the public and private sectors in enabling Telehealth and increasing its adoption?

T3: How do IoT, AI and cloud technologies enable a complete remote health care experience?

T4: How is #5G transforming healthcare beyond “just” Telemedicine?

T5: How can Telemedicine help First Responders to improve triage and deliver better care?

BONUS: Is there a role for AR and VR in Telemedicine?

The conversation around these topics was amazing! The 140+ participants across 1,700+ tweets generated 81.6+ Million impressions.

Here are some of the notable responses to the Twitter Chat questions.

T1: What are the most important technologies to enable Telemedicine?

Jamey Edwards @jameyedwards

T1: All of them :) Great #Telemedicine isnt just about one #technology, it's about pulling together the right #tech for the specific use case to create an accessible continuum of care. That can include #chat, #email, phone, video, wearables and more. #HITsm #TelemedNow

Enlightening Results @GraceCordovano

Agreed Jamey! Amazing how many drs assume patients have blood pressure cuffs, pulse oximeters, thermometers, wearables. We need to proactively educate the general public about the benefits of the new digital medicine cabinet. #HITsm

Stacey Tinianov @coffeemommy

And the elevated levels of #healthliteracy as the general community learns how, why and when to use them! #HITsm

Jim St.Clair @jstclair1

Great paper about that https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5069402/

Jess Clifton @jslentzclifton

My favorite tweet from today's #HITsm chat. I am FULLY here for the "digital medicine cabinet" - take my money!

#PCMH --> medically equipped patient home

#telehealth enablement

Alexia Severson @AlexiaSeverson

@ElectronicCare is helping patients fill their digital medicine cabinet with it's Pro Health remote patient monitoring system. It comes equipped with a non-contact thermometer, pulse oximeter and other Bluetooth devices. #HITsm #healthcare

Caregility @caregility

T1: Security is incredibly important in telemedicine. Security layers such as HIPAA, Single Sign On, Multi Factor Authentication are important to the protection and privacy of the providers and patients. #HITsm

Sunjya Schweig, MD @drschweig

#ArtificialIntelligence (#augmentedintelligence per@daniel_kraft) and#VirtualReality will have outsized role in new#telemed ecosystem. There is so much we can do to expand the experience and leverage doctor time and brain capacity to absorb and utilize all the data. #HITsm

Thomas Capone @Thomas_Capone

#HITsm I feel my IQ going up just by being here....

Edward Bukstel @ebukstel

#Telehealth is not just about doctors. @CMSGov Expands #COVID19 Telehealth Reimbursement to Therapists, Phone Services. #HITsm

Gail Zahtz @GailZahtz

I'm so excited about the expansions that telehealth regulations has made in mental health! Social workers as of last week were finally included. Not a day too soon as I'm sure we'll see systemic PTSD from COVID-19. #HITsm

T2: What is the role/responsibility of the public and private sectors in enabling Telehealth and increasing its adoption?


Bright MD @BrightMD_Health

Ultimately, #telehealth reimbursement post-pandemic will determine the long-term success of #telemedicine. #HITsm (@LarockZoe via @BusinessInsider)

Julie Maas @JulieWMaas

My son right after 1st telehealth visit earlier this week & said "can we always do it that way please?" I think that is promising...

Stacey Tinianov @coffeemommy

Need little visibility into why #Telemedicine should live on (and expand) post the current #COVID19 reality. Here you go. Time, financial and physical savings. #HITsm #hcldr

T3: How do IoT, AI and cloud technologies enable a complete remote health care experience?

Evan Kirstel @evankirstel

T3: #CLOUD! It’s a myth that #healthcare #data stored in the #cloud is "less secure" than onsite data. Modern cloud environments have all the necessary technology & #security protocols in place to protect sensitive #medical information. #HITsm

Stacey Tinianov @coffeemommy

Telehealth has been needed/desired for awhile in many communities. Those who are mobility impaired; struggle with transportation; the immunocompromised, etc. It took a global pandemic for some institutional healthcare to catalyze the shift. The need won't go away. #HITsm

Ashley Dauwer @amariedauwer

I agree. It doesn’t always need to be a person on the other end. Ideally, some would be automated, and others would be more personal from the care team. A team-based care model is important as well. #HITsm



T4: How is #5G transforming healthcare beyond “just” Telemedicine?


Mike Brandofino @MikeBrandofino

T4: It has the promise of increased bandwidth and its wireless reach to enable the Internet of Health. Beyond telemedicine, it will enable machine to machine learning connect an ecosystems of devices and sensors that can collect data that can improve decision making. #HITsm

T5: How can Telemedicine help First Responders to improve triage and deliver better care?

Bright.md @BrightMD_Health

T5: When #telemedicine can triage lower-acuity conditions and keep patients at home, the burden on first responders is reduced so they can focus on emergency care. #hitsm

Mike Brandofino @MikeBrandofino

T5: Telemedicine gives first responders the ability to connect specialists or resources to the scene, during stabilization or in transit, which increases the opportunity for faster care and better outcomes.

BONUS: Is there a role for AR and VR in Telemedicine?

Tripp Braden @TrippBraden

Bonus We use AR/ VR for first responders training. At first field commanders not very comfortable with it. Over time and proven success its hard to argue with the improved results




Ethos Labs @EthosLabs

An amazing community! We're so excited to continue joining #HITsm chats! Thank you @IrmaRaste & @evankirstel for leading such a great chat.

B2B HealthTech Experts @eViRaHealth

So between weekly #HITsm #telemedicine chats & weekly #TelemedNow chats - it’s #telemedicine & #telehealth all the time now! Fitting, because they are pretty much #medicine & #health now, with TELE as an enabling #technology! 🚀 @IrmaRaste @evankirstel



Edward Bukstel @ebukstel

Awesome work @IrmaRaste and @evankirstel.#HITsm. Rockstar performance.


You can see further insights from this discussion in the Twitter Chat transcript.

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