Technology is an ever-changing thing! Like new cars depreciating the minute they enter the highway from the car dealership’s driveway, my phone was obsolete less than 60 days after purchasing it. So buckle up and get ready for the next wave of technological advances, like seeing your doctor, heading to the hospital or getting your prescription filled from a kiosk! The times they are-a changing.
That’s right, medicine from a kiosk. A few weeks ago, one of my horses stepped on my foot. I know, it hurt! Not only did I break my foot, but a trip to the emergency room was in order. After seeing the doctor, getting a myriad of x-rays and taking a wonderful pain killer, I had to leave the ER for the trip home. They discharged me and sent me to a kiosk, where my 15 pill pain killer prescription was filled with my ID number and major credit or debit card. No line, no driving, just swipe, accept the terms, grab the bottle and go. It was truly awesome to see the technology in action.
The next wave is here, like a virtual attendant checking you into the doctor office, following you with monitor by monitor directions and dispensing medicine…even having a consult in the privacy of my own home. Sit back and enjoy as technology is set to make our life a little easier (and techie-er) to see the doctor or pharmacist or get directions or…
Increasingly, telemedicine is becoming integrated into mainstream medicine. Video consultations, mobile medical vans and remote surgery are just a few of the ways digital technology is transforming the practice of medicine and improving the lives of patients. Presently, telemedicine is not widely utilized in emergency settings. However, that is likely to change over the coming decades. Here are several ways telemedicine is being used and will be employed for acute and emergency care in the future:
Battlefield Care: The U.S. armed forces are early adopters when it comes to telemedicine. For example, digital telecommunication linkages between frontline outposts and base hospitals have been standard practice among the services for many years. In fact, military doctors routinely perform endoscopic procedures via videoconference. In the future, cameras and data sensors embedded in soldiers’ uniforms will transmit vital physiological data to base hospitals, which will allow remotely located physicians to collaborate and consult in real-time on emergency battlefield care.
NASA: The space program is also a pioneer in telemedicine. NASA has used remote sensing, videoconferencing and digital communications to track, diagnose and treat astronauts in orbit. In the future, NASA physicians may use a combination of virtual reality peripherals (helmets and gloves) and robotic devices that will allow remotely located surgeons to perform intricate surgical procedures on patients thousands of miles away.
Telepharmacy: Telepharmacy is the use of video and digital communications to supervise and deliver pharmaceutical care to remote environments where no pharmacist is present. For instance, many rural areas have difficulty recruiting and retaining pharmacists to serve in their towns and communities. As a result, many isolated residents do not receive the care and medicines they need. Telepharmacies help address this issue, allowing licensed pharmacists to monitor and consult with both remotely located care providers and patients. Today, thanks to telepharmacies, rural patients can get prescriptions, refills and medicinal questions answered by digital means.
Emergency Mobile Telemedicine: Telemedicine used to be synonymous with video but now it is much more than that. Today, handheld and small portable units can be used by EMS personnel and first responders to monitor and transmit critical patient data to hospitals. These devices include built-in smart-medicine algorithms that can help paramedics quickly evaluate and respond to medical scenarios.
The use of telemedicine in emergency situations helps paramedics and remotely located providers to collaborate on patient care more seamlessly and expeditiously than ever before. In situations where each second counts, and snap decisions are a matter of life and death, telemedicine is helping to set a new standard in emergency care.
Medical Kiosks: Technology is ever changing; and it is changing everything. For example, now you can see your doctor and receive medical treatment at a kiosk. The story of Brian Tagney is a case in point. Brian broke his foot when his horse stepped on it. He visited the ER for x-rays, but after being discharged his physicians sent him to a medical kiosk where he got his prescription for pain-killers filled. As Tagney relates, there was “no line, no driving, I just had to enter my patient ID number, swipe my credit or debit card, accept the terms, grab the bottle and go. It was truly awesome to see the technology in action.”
The next wave in medicine is virtually here. Speaking of which, today a virtual attendant can check you in at the doctor office. They can even accompany you around medical facilities with monitor by monitor directions and instructions. And when you are ready to leave, virtual attendants can dispense your medication. The times they are indeed a-changing
Telemedicine is still in its earliest stages. In the future, digital forms of treatment are certain to expand. In all likelihood, psychiatric diagnosis and counseling will be done routinely by videoconferencing; telemedicine will be used to identify viral outbreaks on international flights; and a worldwide network of specialists on call for virtual consultations and collaborations will be a part of our healthcare future. Surgery and emergency care by remotely located health providers used to be a fancy in the imagination of sci-fi authors. Today, reality is beginning to exceed even their wildest dreams.
About Bob Higginbotham
Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at email@example.com