Telehealth is increasingly disrupting the healthcare industry. This past week the Affect Healthcare team attended the annual ATA conference in Chicago, where companies showed off their telehealth products and services and thought leaders spoke about where they see the industry heading.
In this post, we’ve rounded out key takeaways of the conference and what we learned about the future of the healthcare industry.
- Virtual health is the new telehealth: Speakers from the main stage spoke about how the terms “telemedicine” and “telehealth” are antiquated, in that they simply describe what healthcare already does, just at a distance. The term “virtual health” was touted as a more accurate way of describing the evolving digital way that the healthcare industry is treating and engaging with patients. This term was used throughout the event and is now being seen with some vendors across the industry.
- Remote collaboration between medical professionals and patients is advancing: There are so many new devices and software that will make it easy for patients and doctors to collaborate remotely. Most of the technology provides results in real time to doctors so patients can get an exam just as they would at an in-person visit. Some of the more advanced devices require nurses or PAs to operate them in a home or clinic with a doctor dictating their movement in real time, which can include vital checks and EKGs, while other devices are for consumer use and include digital imaging of ear, nose, throat and skin to share with their primary care doctor. This remote collaboration will bring big benefits to rural and underserved communities along with very ill and elderly patients.
- Medical schools are still trying to figure out how to train the next generation of medical professionals: As technology and the healthcare landscape advance, medical schools are trying to figure out how to educate future doctors and nurses with emerging telehealth technology. The field is rapidly changing and what practices and tools are standard now, might be outdated by the time medical students even graduate from their programs. Medical schools need to rethink their curriculum, the skills of the future doctor, and who they should be recruiting, and figure out how they can best prepare students for the healthcare field of the future. It’s not an easy puzzle to solve.
- Telehealth is here to stay: One thing was apparent at the conference is telehealth has been rapidly changing the healthcare industry and there is no going back. Advancements in imaging, devices, software and AI for the industry have made a significant impact and are now will be a vital part of any medical practice. Telehealth affects all areas of healthcare including psychiatry, dermatology, dentistry, cardiology, hospital and general practices and will continue to evolve as technology does.
As advancements in technology are helping the healthcare industry change and deliver patient care and engagement like never before, practices and medical professionals are going to continue to have to learn about emerging technology.