Rahul Varshneya, Arkenea
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The Growing Role of Artificial Intelligence in Telehealth

By Rahul Varshneya
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Rahul Varshneya, Arkenea

The application of AI in telehealth to allow doctors to make real-time, data-driven rich choices is a key component in generating a better patient experience and improved health outcomes.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a commonplace reality as technology advances. Healthcare is one sector that is quickly changing on a big scale. From the issuance of electronic healthcare cards to personal counseling, telehealth is among the newest sectors to use AI extensively. AI is one of the most significant factors shaping telehealth in the United States today.

The application of AI in telehealth to allow doctors to make real-time, data-driven rich choices is a key component in generating a better patient experience and improved health outcomes as practitioners move toward expanding virtual care alternatives throughout the care continuum.

According to an MIT research, 75% of healthcare facilities that used AI claimed it improved their capacity to cure diseases, and four in five said it helped them avoid job burnout. With COVID-19 placing a pressure on both sectors (amount of clinical data and related patients, as well as increased practitioner work), AI in telehealth is a strong option for the future of medical delivery. This article discusses how AI is transforming the telehealth landscape.

1. Providing a More Accurate Diagnosis

Telemedicine has made remote diagnosis feasible. Practitioners can now examine, identify and treat illnesses from afar. For example, in patients with diabetic retinopathy, it has helped to reduce visits. The L.A. County Department of Health Services found that telehealth monitoring for diabetic retinopathy decreased patient visits by approximately 14,000 visits.

With the inclusion of artificial intelligence (AI) to screening processes, the number of visits is anticipated to drop yet further. The algorithm will only need retinal pictures if an AI system is included into the screening procedure.

The AI system can examine the pictures and compare them to prior samples to estimate the severity of the disease with pinpoint accuracy. The application of AI in the screening procedure will save a significant amount of time and labor for both the physicians and the patients.

Another company is studying pictures of patients to build an AI system to identify the presence of uncommon genetic disorders. Patients with uncommon genetic diseases now need an average of seven visits to the doctor’s office before a proper diagnosis can be made. The number of visits may be lowered to zero using AI and telemedicine. Simply transmit a picture of the patient’s face to the clinician, and the AI system will evaluate it and accurately identify the condition.

Doctors and patients may anticipate diagnosis to become a more time and cost-effective procedure as a result of the simplicity of identification made possible by using AI in telemedicine.

2. Keeping Doctors From Burning Out

During lengthy work days, doctors are prone to becoming anxious. It may cause dissatisfaction and fatigue, as well as have an impact on work habits. Burnout is most often caused by extended contact with patients or spending a significant amount of time on technological gadgets.

Doctors engage with the EMR rather than the patients. Telehealth has already gone mainstream for doctors in overcoming burnout. When AI and telehealth are combined, the advantages are doubled. AI may help doctors spend less time on their computers.

AI may also assist in the detection of signs that may suggest burnout symptoms. It can even forecast how many patients a doctor would be able to visit before becoming exhausted.

3. Providing Elderly Patients with Better Medical Care

Mobile devices are often linked with telemedicine as well as there are many telemedicine applications developed with the objective of assisting users in managing their medical problems, fitness goals, doctor’s visits and insurance claims more efficiently.

Telehealth will, however, eventually incorporate assistive robots. These robots will play a significant role in delivering healthcare to residents, particularly the elderly. Smart robots can help individuals with activities like walking and moving about the home, delivering timely medicines, and notifying authorities in the event of an emergency.

The robots can move semi-autonomously and do the duties that have been assigned to them. The robots can comprehend the surroundings, the patient’s behavioral and movement patterns, and the house interior settings thanks to AI capabilities. As a result, it may learn to better assist the patient and act as their caregiver.

The Japanese government has already begun financing research into the creation of AI robots to help the elderly. These robots can help individuals move, bathe, dispose of their waste, and check their health in real time. These robots have the potential to lower healthcare delivery costs while performing at the same level of efficiency as people. They may even help patients enhance their quality of life by providing round-the-clock care to the elderly.

4. Patient-Monitoring Convenience

AI has opened up a world of possibilities for remotely monitoring a patient’s health and simulating face-to-face interactions among doctors and patients.

The use of artificial intelligence in telehealth settings is getting traction. Research on the effectiveness of AI in remote diabetes care was performed by the NextDREAM Consortium Group. The main result was that distant insulin adjustments using the trialed automated AI system may be as successful as expert physician dosage changes.

Physicians and specialists may adopt the AI-based automated service for decision assistance. The Center for Telehealth Innovation at the University of San Francisco is experimenting with AI that can interpret X-rays as an early warning sign for pneumothorax.

Data analysis and collaboration, patient monitoring remotely and intelligent diagnoses and support are the most common AI use cases in telehealth. The potential of AI may be used to assist doctors in diagnosing and treating patients, as well as to reduce professional burnout and improve the whole patient experience.

Due to the continuing public health issue, healthcare executives are increasingly focusing on AI and telehealth as a way to remain competitive by simplifying clinician processes and unleashing predictive potential via patient data analysis. This has been observed as a reduction in the physical need for in-person consultations this year as a result of the deployment of lockdown measures. AI has significantly aided in the monitoring of clients’ wellbeing in their homes.

5. Making Hospital Visits Easier

Although telemedicine promises to cut down on hospital visits, they are occasionally essential. In such situations, AI may assist in reducing patient wait times and ensuring that patients are seen as soon as possible. The AI technology keeps staff members informed about the inflow of patients visiting the hospital, high-priority cases, the need for extra beds, and other patient-care-related information. The hospital’s capacity to accept patients with complicated medical problems has improved by 60% as a consequence of the program.

Ambulance services have also improved their efficiency, with ambulances being sent an hour earlier. Thanks to AI and predictive analytics, patients in the emergency department are also assigned a bed up to 30% faster in some locations.

The importance of AI in telehealth will expand significantly as the area of telemedicine and telehealth develops with more acceptance. The use of artificial intelligence in telehealth may be very beneficial to medical practitioners. It will help reduce expenses, provide better healthcare to people, and improve the work environment by decreasing patient wait times, recommending the best treatment choices, and, most significantly, making healthcare accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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