Telehealth, the delivery of healthcare from a distance, has become increasingly normalised over the past 12 months, as the Covid pandemic has impacted on the usual doctor / patient relationship. The most obvious manifestation of telehealth, teleconferencing, has allowed doctors and patients to communicate effectively with each other, and has also allowed clinical groups to collaborate efficiently. And while many patients still prefer direct human interactions, others have appreciated the convenience of a direct conference call with their doctor.
There are of course clear limitations in what can be done through teleconferencing. While a variety of communication devices have been developed to enable medical practitioners to monitor, diagnose and treat patients without having to be physically with them, there remains much to do.
The question asked in this SIG event is, ‘What would an ideal telehealth system look like if it was designed for healthcare, and how might its features improve patient care and benefit the NHS?’.
Can we develop technologies and devices to enable more effective physiological monitoring? Can we securely transfer and display confidential patient data? Will on-line AI systems have a role to play in rapid diagnosis?
Improving patients’ experience is the main reason to use technology in healthcare, but a recent report has described doctors now ‘working in call-centres’. So, can we use technology to improve the doctors’ working environment, enabling them to enhance their interaction with patients and deliver more effective and personal healthcare?
Covid has accelerated the move to digital delivery of healthcare, but we must not forget that the NHS waiting list at the end of the pandemic will require more and different solutions to support and care for patients.