Providers of cellular and satellite networking services for connecting telehealth and other non-phone wireless devices are approached every day with new use case scenarios about how telemedicine can provide novel value. Those applications are growing rapidly in the market.
Healthcare IT News spoke with Alex Brisbourne, president and COO of KORE Telematics, a wireless network provider focused on the M2M communications market, regarding these evolving telemedicine opportunities. Brisbourne presented the top five health conditions ripe for treatment -- or already being treated -- via telemedicine.
1. Active heart monitoring
For at-risk patients, wireless heart monitoring devices have already proven to reduce hospitalization through early detection of heart failure. In addition, these devices are able to limit the time that physicians spend looking at data that is not pertinent, Brisbourne says, since they only send notifications with information that is outside an acceptable range.
2. Blood pressure
Wireless sensor nodes have become cost-effective, compact and energy efficient, which allows for continuous cycle reporting and electronic dispatch in urgent situations. It is important, however, to distinguish in this category between "critical monitoring" and "convenience monitoring." The former is able to account for stress, eating habits and other external triggers more completely and pinpoint life-or-death issues. The latter includes iPhone Apps for the merely curious consumer.
Wireless glucose monitoring devices can send alerts to patients and doctors when values move outside an acceptable range. These devices can also monitor for dietary intake that would affect a patient's course of action.
4. Prescription compliance
Patient health risks -- and the risk of hospital admission -- are greatly reduced by eliminating medication misses. But there's also a need to ensure that people take entire drug courses and eliminate the potential for re-prescribing, says Brisbourne. Billions of dollars each year reach their expiration date in patients' medicine cabinets, he notes. Additional intangible benefits include fewer provider phone calls, and even shorter wait times in provider offices by eliminating visits from improper prescription utilization.
5. Sleep apnea
Telemedicine devices for sleep apnea can handle both investigatory and direct treatment. The two-way nature of the devices can report on sleep patterns, body position and breathing to refine research and treatment course for any given patient. There's a direct cost saving here as well, says Brisbourne, as the devices directly eliminate the need for expensive polysomnography exams and limit the need for overnight hospital stays, on an ongoing basis.