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The New Frontier of Telemedicine: AI, Regular Check-Ins, and Improved Patient Outcomes

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Medriva Correspondents
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The New Frontier of Telemedicine: AI, Regular Check-Ins, and Improved Patient Outcomes

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Telemedicine, once primarily used for treating minor ailments such as sinus infections and pink eye, is rapidly evolving. According to Dr. Roy Schoenberg, co-CEO of Amwell, the future of telemedicine lies in regularly connecting patients with their regular doctors, and employing artificial intelligence to monitor their health.

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A Shift in Telemedicine

Patients with complex conditions such as cancer and chronic illnesses can now take advantage of telemedicine for their regular appointments. This shift is not just about convenience; it's about continuity of care and improving patient outcomes. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in telemedicine is transforming the healthcare landscape. Although AI cannot replace clinicians, it can be used to monitor patients regularly and escalate their care when necessary.

Addressing Challenges in Healthcare

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Despite the advancements in telemedicine, challenges persist. A scoping review published in Advances in Public Health identified enduring challenges in physical and medical issues, psychological difficulties, socioeconomic obstacles, and policy-related hurdles. However, significant advancements were noted in technology, medicine, social and societal aspects, and policy. These advancements serve as a roadmap for guiding future research and shaping policy directions in healthcare.

The Impact of the Pandemic on Telemedicine

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of virtual healthcare across the United States. Telemedicine, which has been around for decades, saw limited use until the pandemic forced regulators to ease restrictions and reimbursements for virtual care. This led to a boom in telemedicine, with retailers offering direct access to services and traditional providers adapting to meet patient needs, especially in rural areas.

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The Future of Telemedicine

Companies like Amazon and Costco are investing in virtual care providers, while traditional healthcare providers are either building their own virtual care systems or partnering with existing providers. For instance, MUSC Health is considering building its own virtual care system or partnering with providers such as One Medical. This indicates that telemedicine is more than a temporary solution; it's becoming an integral part of the healthcare system.

Telemedicine and Pediatric Care

Telemedicine is also revolutionizing pediatric care. By leveraging digital technologies, healthcare providers can offer specialized care to children in remote or rural areas. Telehealth has proven effective in improving health outcomes for children with chronic conditions, reducing hospitalizations, and enhancing the overall quality of life for pediatric patients and their families. However, realizing the full potential of pediatric telehealth requires collaboration among healthcare stakeholders, policymakers, and technology developers.

In conclusion, the future of telemedicine is promising. With the use of AI, regular patient-doctor check-ins, and a focus on improving patient outcomes, telemedicine is poised to solve many of the existing challenges in healthcare. As telemedicine continues to evolve, it will play an increasingly important role in the provision of healthcare services.

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