The Telecoms industry and the healthcare industry are two industries that have traditionally operated separately, but in recent years, they have begun to merge. The development and introduction of new technologies in telecoms has allowed for significant advancements in the delivery of healthcare, leading to improved patient engagement, increased access to healthcare, a reduction in costs for patients and healthcare providers and so on (Quadcare, 2022).
One of the biggest ways telecoms and health have come together is through telemedicine. Telemedicine is the use of telecommunications technology to provide clinical healthcare services remotely (Thomas, 2023). This can include video conferencing for virtual appointments and remote patient monitoring, explains Thomas (2023). By utilizing telecoms technology patients no longer have to travel to a physical location, meaning that they can receive quality care from their own homes thus reducing their need to travel while feeling unwell, as well as reducing the risk of spreading any contagious illnesses to others.
Telemedicine has been incredibly beneficial for those who live in rural or underserved areas where they may have limited access to healthcare (CDC, 2022). With telemedicine patients no longer have to travel long distances to see a specialist or receive specialized care. Instead, they can connect with healthcare professionals through their smartphones or computers saving them time, money and allowing them to access healthcare faster.
The use of telecoms technology in healthcare has also improved communication and coordination among healthcare providers. With the rise of electronic medical records and teleconferencing, doctors and other healthcare professionals can easily communicate and share information among eachother. This has led to more efficient and accurate diagnoses as well as improved treatment plans for patients. A study carried out by Southwick (2022) revealed that 86.9% of diagnosis made via telemedicine matched the in-person diagnosis made on those same patients, however 13.1% did not. In emergency situations, this technology can be lifesaving as it allows for real time communication and collaboration between healthcare teams.
Additionally, the use of telecoms technology has revolutionized the way that healthcare data is collected and analysed (Michel et al., 2020). With the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics, healthcare providers can now collect and analyse large amounts of patient data in a matter of seconds. This data can be used to identify patterns and trends which can assist in early detection and preventive care, explains Michel et al (2020). For example, AI algorithms can analyse a patient’s medical history and their current symptoms to identify potential health risks that they may have while also providing them with personalized recommendations for preventive measures.
Lastly, another way that telecoms and health have worked together to revolutionize healthcare delivery is by promoting self-care and patient empowerment. With the expansion of mobile health apps and wearable devices, individuals can now monitor their own health and track their fitness, health and wellness goals. These tools allow patients to take some control of their own health and to make informed decisions about their lifestyle choices.
CDC. (2022, September 8). Telehealth in rural communities. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/telehealth-in-rural-communities.htm#:~:text=Telehealth%20technologies%20are%20less%20restricted,devices%20needed%20to%20use%20telehealth
Michel, J., Hautz, W., & Sauter, T. (2020b). Telemedicine and online platforms as an opportunity to optimise qualitative data collection, explore and understand disease pathways in a novel pandemic like covid-19. Journal of the International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth, 8. https://doi.org/10.29086/jisfteh.8.e9
Quadcare. (2022, March 16). Top 10 benefits of telehealth for South African patients and doctors. Quadcare. https://quadcare.co.za/2022/03/16/top-10-benefits-of-telehealth/
Southwick, R. (2022, September 12). Telehealth diagnosis shows high level of accuracy, study finds. OncLive. https://www.chiefhealthcareexecutive.com/view/telehealth-diagnosis-shows-high-level-of-accuracy-study-finds
Thomas, Dr. L. (2023, January 18). What is telemedicine?. News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Telemedicine.aspx