Remote technology has been around for years, but “hands-on” industries like medicine have been slow to implement it. COVID-19 changed all of that — possibly for good.
Emerging imaging technologies make it easier than ever to acquire and share medical information. Medical professionals can even use the patients’ smartphones to help diagnose and treat them. Learn about the emerging imaging technology in medicine and how it’s revolutionizing patient diagnosis and treatment as well as training doctors and surgeons in the 21st century.
The imaging technology behind our remote medicine revolution
The first generation of the iPhone released back in 2007 used a 2.0-megapixel (MP) rear-facing camera. Very primitive by today’s standards and not very useful. The latest iPhone release, the iPhone 12 Pro, uses a 12 MP camera with wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto lenses. It can record up to 4K video at 60 fps (frames per second), and competing smartphones offer similar qualities of images and video. This makes the smartphone the medical supercomputer in your pocket.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) the medical diagnostic tool on your wrist
Not only can smartphones take high-resolution video and photos, but they can also serve as remote healthcare information gathering points. Through specially developed RPM applications, medical professionals can now remotely monitor patient vitals. Combined with wearable technology, such as Apple Watches or Fitbits, this can provide in-depth medical data about a patient’s heart rate, oxygen saturation, glucose levels, sleep patterns, and more. It’s predicted that 30 million US patients, 11.2% of the population, will use RPM tools by 2024.
Telehealth and the birth of virtual doctor’s office visits
COVID-19 has given many people experience with online medical appointments with doctors or certified nurse practitioners (CNPs) via video chats and other types of secure virtual office visits.
Telehealth is the use of digital information and communication technologies like computers and mobile devices to manage your healthcare and access services, such as:
- Virtual medical appointments: These allow medical professionals to schedule appointments using secure online video conferencing for situations where the patient cannot or does not need to appear for an appointment in person.
- Remote monitoring of health conditions: When used in combination with RPM technology, doctors and nurses can get a reasonably accurate assessment of patients’ current health and recommend better medications and treatment strategies.
- Electronic health record management: Patients and medical professionals can access, control, and maintain personal health information at any time using any web-enabled device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
- Peer medical consultation: Medical professionals can share a patient’s in-depth medical information, including doctor’s notes, treatment plans, test results, health scans (such as x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and more), and more. The video conference capabilities of many of the online tools allow medical professionals to consult and work as a team to provide high-quality patient care.
Imaging technology is the core of remote medicine practice
The emergence of advanced medical imaging technology — not to mention image sharing and storage — has made it easier than ever to capture patient information such as x-ray, CT scans, MRIs, etc., and get them to the people who need to see them, while remaining HIPAA compliant and protecting patient privacy.
For applications such as DICOM Director’s Share XP, it is easy to transmit imaging to patients, physicians, or other practitioners who must review these files to ensure the best patient outcomes. When you combine this with high-speed internet networks, critical patient information can be shared instantly.
The rise of cloud-based image storage and sharing technologies have also helped improve patient care in many ways, including:
- Delivering healthcare services to rural and underserved communities: Rural populations have poor access to healthcare. Doctors, especially specialists, have limited areas in which they practice, but by using telemedicine, primary care doctors on-location can consult with specialists anywhere in the world.
- Supporting the operating room: High-resolution image feeds from operating room cameras can train new surgeons or guide a surgeon in a remote area through a complex operation in real-time.
- Delivering high-resolution scans and tests instantly: The days of hand carrying your films between the x-ray technician and your doctor are gone. Cloud-based solutions like Share XR allow medical personnel to transfer high-resolution images immediately to others on the patient care team or attach them to a patient’s electronic medical record.
- Enhancing productivity at home: Healthcare professionals exposed to COVID-19 who were asymptomatic or not severely affected by the virus could continue to provide care through the use of telehealth applications. This may provide opportunities to allow medical professionals who are pregnant, disabled, or physically limited in some other way to help patients while improving the healthcare worker’s quality of life.
- Saves hospitals and healthcare facilities money: The use of telehealth applications allows medical practitioners to work from home for some tasks, which frees up facility office space, provides access to doctors and nurses who work outside of the area, and creates training and collaboration opportunities online instead of traveling to in-person training events each year.
These are just a few ways that digital imaging facilitates remote healthcare and can benefit both providers and patients.
Bring your facility up to the cutting edge of digital imaging technology with DICOM Director’s suite of secure storage and sharing tools. For more information, fill out our simple online contact form, or give us a call at 1 (203) 823-9945.