12 Telemedicine Innovations That Will Shape Healthcare's Future

These 12 healthcare products and services caught our attention at the annual meeting of the American Telemedicine Association.

Telemedicine Innovations That Will Shape Healthcare's Future
Credit: Robin Jareaux

As mobile devices and broadband Internet becomes ubiquitous, the world of telemedicine (or, more broadly, telehealth) continues to advance. Simply put, the future of healthcare will include mobile devices and videoconferencing technology.

For 18 years, the ATA Annual International Meeting & Trade Show has been the premier forum for healthcare professionals and business executives working in telemedicine. Here are 12 innovative examples of telemedicine that were seen at ATA 2013 in Austin, Texas.

Related: Why Telemedicine Is Finally Ready to Take Off

Dr. Joseph Kim is the president of MCM Education, a publishing company that provides continuing education for physicians, nurses and pharmacists, and the founder of MedicineandTechnology.com, MedicalSmartphones.com and MobileHealthComputing.com.

HealthSpot
HealthSpot

What if you could access your doctor from work or from school? HealthSpot offers a telehealth system that provides high-quality medical diagnostics to patients anytime, anywhere. The platform establishes face-to-face dialogue and sets a path for patients to have easy access to follow-up treatment with their providers. The platform also supports access to an electronic health record (EHR) that can send health information to other providers and ease electronic prescribing. The HealthSpot Station is private, spacious, quiet and secure. You will find these HealthSpot Stations at employer sites, universities and other locations in the future.

Handheld Telemedicine Kits
Handheld Telemedicine Kits

Medweb offers what it calls the smallest mobile telemedicine kit on the market. The Handheld Telemedicine Kit includes the medical devices needed to conduct first-line patient exams, integrated with a tablet computer. Device in the kit take advantage of the latest advances in optics, LED light sources, digital displays, wireless data transfer and high-resolution imaging to interface with EHR and PACS systems. The kit also works with Medweb's iOS and Android mobile applications.

Related: 10 Mobile Health Gadgets for Better, Longer Living

Rural School-Based Telehealth Clinics
Rural School-Based Telehealth Clinics

Rural areas of the United States continue to be unserved or underserved regions for healthcare. To change this, school-based telehealth care has been introduced as a way to deliver care to children. The Georgia Partnership for Telehealth, for example, has set up 13 school-based health clinics that use telemedicine technology to give children access to basic primary care services. These types of school-based telehealth programs often consist of pediatric primary care physicians and nurse practitioners to oversee the care for schools' students.

More: 6 Innovations That Will Change Healthcare

Telehealth on the iPad
Telehealth on the iPad

Video collaboration firm VSee makes it easy for a patient to have a televisit with a doctor. VSee simplifies patient-doctor interactions with its no-install, one-click video calling from the Web. VSee also provides medical device integration with stethoscopes, otoscopes, ultrasounds, X-rays, surgical fluoroscopes and more.

Former Apple CEO John Sculley demonstrated VSee on the iPad at the 2012 Self-Insurance Institute of America conference. One click gets you access to a doctor or lets you switch screens to share medical images or medical chart data. VSee offers a simple, low bandwidth, secure and encrypted telehealth tool.

More: 12 Ways the iPad Is Changing Healthcare

Reduce Hospital Readmissions
Reduce Hospital Readmissions

Preventable hospital readmissions continue to be a major healthcare burden in this country. One in five Medicare patients are readmitted to a hospital within 30 days of discharge, and one in three are readmitted within 90 days. It's estimated that 75 percent of all hospital readmissions are preventable.

The Avery Telehealth 30-day Readmission Avoidance Program focuses on proactive care transition planning, patient-centric post-discharge care coordination and remote telehealth monitoring. The platform executes hospital discharge orders and proactively coordinates care with the patient's primary care provider and other community health providers. By using technology to improve care coordination and communication, this program has been shown to dramatically reduce hospital readmissions for patients with chronic conditions such as heart failure and COPD.

Screen for Diabetic Retinopathy
Screen for Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world; diabetes patients have a risk of developing retinopathy, which could ultimately lead to blindness. Optical imaging firm i-Optics has developed a system called EyePrevent to improve diabetic retinopathy evaluation rates through retinal imaging with remote expert interpretation. Powered by the EasyScan Retinal Imaging System, EyePrevent provides an easy-to-use turnkey solution for primary care providers and ensures higher compliance and better patient care. Patients don't need to undergo pupil dilation, either.

Get a Second Opinion Online
Get a Second Opinion Online

Second Opinion Telemedicine Solutions aims to make it easier than ever to get a second opinion without visiting another doctor's office. The firm's software applications and interactive videoconferencing mobile medical carts include HD medical video scopes. You can attach vital sign monitors and electronic stethoscopes to the system as well so remote doctors can access all your information. Health data is stored in a portal that gives healthcare providers easy yet secure access to your information.

More: 10 Ways Telemedicine Is Changing Healthcare IT

PhysioGlove
PhysioGlove

Getting an accurate 12-lead ECG can be cumbersome if you don't have a trained technician who knows where to place the electrodes. Leads can also fall off or get disconnected when patients move around. The PhysioGlove strives to eliminate that problem with a wire-free, simultaneous and fully diagnostic 12-lead ECG recording system. All 10 ECG electrodes are incorporated in a glove worn on the patient's left arm. The proper positioning of the "PhysioGlove" on the patient's chest, meanwhile, is designed to be natural and require only minimal training. The result is a fast, accurate ECG that can provide life-saving information in a very timely fashion.

Health-e-Chair
Health-e-Chair

What if your favorite recliner could be transformed into a health station that monitors your body? The Health-e-Chair incorporates a vast array of biosensors to measure basic vital signs, including weight, blood pressure, temperature, ECG, auscultation of heart and lung sounds, blood oxygen saturation, motion analysis and reflex response time. Plus, the chair incorporates a communication unit with a remotely controlled camera. Health-e-Chair users need no prior training or computer skills to the use of the equipment, chair maker ComwellMedical says. Since the chair is remotely controlled, there are no buttons, mouse or keyboard. All the patient needs to do is sit in the Health-e-Chair and let the remote clinician do the work.

Interactive Patient Care
Interactive Patient Care

Patients want to interact with healthcare providers, but doctors and nurses are becoming increasingly busy. Interactive Patient Care by GetWellNetwork is an emerging, innovative care delivery model based on the premise that a more engaged patient is a better patient with better outcomes. IPC provides educational and entertainment resources to the patient at the bedside through an in-room TV. These interactive health services deliver patient education, pain management and medication teaching to the hospitalized patient without the need to consult a busy medical professional. IPC can also integrate with hospital IT systems and tailor the interactive content for each patient.

Related: 12 Ways to Improve the Healthcare User Experience

RP-VITA Telemedicine Robot
RP-VITA Telemedicine Robot

Your local hospital may be getting a robot. The RP-VITA by InTouch Health and iRobot is the first Food and Drug Administration-cleared telemedicine robot that combines state-of-the-art telecommunications and AutoDrive technology. Hospitals are integrating this robot into telestroke, teleICU, telepsych and telepediatric programs. Robotic telemedicine solutions provide a new level of ease of use and independence that frees doctors and nurses to focus solely on patient care—and to forget about the technology. The RP-VITA also puts one doctor right in front of another doctor so that they can communicate and collaborate effortlessly.

More: Healthcare Robot Brings Experts to Bedside

Advanced Fall Detection
Advanced Fall Detection

Older adults are at a greater risk for falls as they lose their balance or develop leg problems. Falls can lead to hip fractures, concussions and other serious complications. AFrame Digital's MobileCare Monitor continuously and non-invasively monitors an individual's activity, location, physiological status and fall-related impacts. Combined with Tel-Tron, this platform becomes a fully-integrated wireless fall detection and life safety system to support proactive alerting capabilities in senior communities.