March 12, 2013

Article

Video communication increasing reach of healthcare services

For the last few years, healthcare practitioners and medical institutions have been trying to reach more patients by integrating modern technology. This has so far encompassed cloud computing, mobile deployments and social media, as well as a variety of other online portals. Useful in both private and professional interactions, these avenues of interaction provide physicians with a new level of clarity and transparency in individual care.

This has made healthcare the perfect landscape for video communication as well. Instead of just sending text-based notes and charts, providers can send each other spoken information regarding patients and even show previous meetings with the individual, if there are available recordings. Doctors can send their patients tutorials on follow-up care practices or link them to general wellness videos. The range of services and capabilities the healthcare industry can develop using video communication is only beginning to develop, and already the environment seems rich with opportunities.

BizTech reported that telemedicine – conducting entire checkups and patient meetings through an online connection – is an increasingly popular trend around the world. A study by GlobalData forecasted that this industry would grow almost 15 percent each year between now and 2018, with the final value of the market exceeding $30 billion in communications and technology investments. This is in direct response to the cost of healthcare services overall, as the price of seeing a doctor in some parts of the world, even the United States, is prohibitively expensive.

Curbing costs in a variety of ways
Another problem with the medical industry, according to the source, is the lack of localized specialists. Instead of having to traverse the nation or even the globe, video communication can let a patient transmit data to a doctor for further evaluation without spending the huge amount of time and money that previously went into such meetings. The hope is, according to BizTech, that eventually doctors and insurance companies will come to an understanding that such visits will count as actual appointments and be granted reduced fees and coverage costs as part of individual plans.

In order to curb costs for individuals and the industry as a whole, healthcare is already making use of a number of innovative, modern technologies. As InformationWeek wrote, big data initiatives are helping doctors keep track of massive amounts of patient information all relating to a single person. This could include insurance and billing data, personal identifiers, and now even video communications between the doctor and patient. Expanding the ways people communicate about medical information could cause a spike in the amount of documentation that needs to be monitored and secured, but considering the volume of files these providers currently deal with, it shouldn't be outside the realm of emerging big data trends.

What matters most here, according to InformationWeek, is the enhanced level of care each person receives in light of these improvements. Tracking individuals to this extent creates a web of doctors all working toward a common goal – that patient's well-being – which can lead to better overall care and further research insights.

Taking video to the next level
With all the functionality and flexibility of video communication in mind, there's no reason for clinicians to limit its use to web-based applications only. The rise of mobile devices has made it easier for doctors to pull up patient information while in the midst of routine check-ups on their tablets and smartphones, review past data and make updates to these files where necessary.

HealthTech Zone reported that some medical establishments are making more headway in launching video on mobile as well. This would be both internal and consumer-facing in nature, the source stated, so that providers could create short, informative videos that they could share with other medical staff or with their clients.

InformationWeek added that keeping up with patients through a mobile or cloud-based network would allow for an easier flow of communication between all parties. If something goes wrong with a person after seeing a doctor, he or she can review video for business resources put out by a clinician describing how to handle the problem. They can review video communication about the signs and symptoms to expect when starting a new medication. They are also able to record a video themselves listing their concerns and current issues, so that a doctor or nurse can watch the message and respond to it later.

As more technologies are added to the game, such as mobile devices, the limit of patient-doctor communication will continue to shrink. There are hopes that this will help reduce miscommunication about medical care and reduce the cost of services, because providers will have new, easy ways of giving people access to their services. Video communication stands to revolutionize the healthcare industry.