Telemedicine as a Modern Mainstream Alternative

 2021-10-19 By: Elroy Yao

While new COVID cases have slowly been reduced, the rate of reduction & recovery is not yet enough for the world to return to pre-COVID days of "normalcy". COVID does not replace other existing illnesses; only replaces people’s focus and further adds strain to the existing healthcare system. In addition, with COVID's high infection rate; people who need conventional healthcare might not seek it as they fear catching the disease. As COVID spread, a revolution of healthcare would be needed because resources and funds are pooled, utilized, used, diverted, or drained to combat the pandemic and its spread.

With conventional solutions being unable to fulfill the demand for healthcare due to how stretched thin the healthcare workers & resources are; telemedicine seems to be the only feasible short term solution. To prevent increasing the spread of COVID patients, telemedicine and virtual software can ease the strain on the healthcare supply chain. Reluctance and doubt on the provider side also seem to have disappeared seemingly due to lack of options. Where issues such as general reluctance to change the workflow or training staff in telemedicine once stalled its growth, the COVID pandemic and technological innovations changed the general opinion. The global telemedicine market size is now projected to grow to more than USD 186.7 Billion by 2027.

Telemedicine also has multiple degrees of coverage, from the more DIY solution of letting an app handle the patient's life to a full ecosystem that needs to be installed in the user's home. This degree of customization might be useful as different people have different needs, degrees of comfort, and budget for healthcare. Telemedicine and its broader category: telehealth in the end allows for a more holistic approach to monitor and find the best solution for the patients' ailments and in some cases, prevent a life-threatening accident to severely harm the patient.

Preventiv from Taiwan focuses on a growing niche in many countries: single-living households. In the case of emergencies, assistance and rescue might come too late due to delayed reporting. The team's solution includes installing multiple cameras and wearable devices to monitor the user's health. In the case of an emergency such as the user collapsing, their algorithm will prompt an indoor robot or drone to check on the user. Real-time images and emergency messages are then sent to family members and relevant responders through communication platforms.

A startup from Israel, Neteera uses a compact device that operates at very high frequency to sense micro-skin displacements through clothing from a distance. The signals are then interpreted into vital signs and other behavioural indicators by their proprietary algorithm to assess the subject's physiological status. The data is then uploaded to Neteera's HIPAA and GDPR-compliant cloud that can be accessed anywhere to enable further analysis or spot checking. Neteera's technology is non-camera based and ensures that all information obtained is completely anonymized, for privacy purposes.

On the other hand, some procedures such as dialysis can only be done in a centralized location such as a hospital or local health center. In these cases the best option would perhaps be to shorten the processing time to reduce the possibility of the patient coming into contact with a carrier of highly infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

One such solution is offered by Uppermed, a Singaporean startup dedicated to improving the quality of life for dialysis patients. Featuring a portable device and a software, it is used to shorten the dialysis operation time by half and automatically record the data as well as to assist peritonitis detection at the early stage. In addition, Uppermed also provides a data management platform which enables medical staff to achieve real-time access to patients' dialysis status.

Learn more about Preventiv, Neteera, Uppermed, and more InnoVEX ONLINE exhibitors here.

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