COVID – 19 My Predictions Part 2 – Remote Medicine
“My doctor gave me six months to live, but when I couldn't pay the bill he gave me six months more.” Walter Matthau
“Technology now allows people to connect anytime, anywhere, to anyone in the world, from almost any device. This is dramatically changing the way people work, facilitating 24/7 collaboration with colleagues who are dispersed across time zones, countries, and continents.” Michael Dell
Prediction 2 - We will rapidly adopt remote medicine, and medical costs for day to day interactions will decline.
I have a Fitbit on my wrist, and it keeps track of my sleep patterns, pulse, blood pressure and exercise. If I wanted to, I could buy an wi-fi enabled scale that would also keep track of my weight. These all upload to an app on my phone where I can easily see progress over time.
When I go to the doctors office, the nurse takes me to a room where they weigh me, take my pulse and check my temperature and blood pressure.
My wife recently needed to see a Doctor, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic the doctors office asked her to interact with an app. She downloaded the app and was able to discuss her issues with the doctor, get a diagnosis and have her prescription sent to the pharmacy. The pharmacy even delivered the medicine free of charge!
Recently, the researchers at Stanford University demonstrated the potential of deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) algorithms for dermatologist-level classification of skin cancer, which is primarily diagnosed visually. The largest ever dataset, comprising 129,450 clinical images and consisting of 2,032 different diseases, was used to train and test a CNN algorithm. The result was a performance comparable with that of each of the 21 board-certified dermatologists when trying to identify both the most common and the deadliest skin cancer. And what might that mean for you and me? It aims to provide low-cost universal access to vital diagnostic care through a mobile application (becominghuman.ai).
March 28, 2020, Newsbreak website ran this story: Hospitals make room for corona virus patients by trying to treat people at home. Studies have shown that home hospitalization can produce better health outcomes, fewer hospital re-admissions and a lower mortality rate.
Vice President Mike Pence recently directed Health and Human Services to permit doctors to practice across state lines.
As I type this on March 28, 2020 there are an estimated 3.5 billion smartphones in the world, meaning that approximately 45% of the people in the world have smart phones. In the United States 250 million people have smart phones, or 80% of the population.
Finally, according to a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, one in four people indicate that it takes more than 30 days to get an appointment with their physician. According to the Wellness Council of America, 70 percent of all doctor’s office visits are unnecessary, and 66 percent of all ER visits are non-emergencies.
Let’s bring all that together. 70% of all doctor visits are unnecessary and 80% of the population in the United States already have the technology in their pocket to interact remotely with their doctor. Technology is currently available to let the doctor remotely access your temperature, blood pressure, pulse, weight and oxygen saturation level. Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) combined with emerging 5G technology open the possibility of advance diagnostics done remotely. Finally, waiving state by state licensing of physicians allows a patient to pick the best doctor in their field, not necessarily the closest!
We have the technology and the cost savings are enormous. We also dramatically decrease the opportunity for cross infection as sick patients interact with each other in the waiting rooms and with the doctors and staff. This could be done today, and it would dramatically change the medical landscape for the better.
There will always be a time when hands on care is required. However, if 70% of visits are unnecessary, why do so many of us still “go” to the Doctor?
Next I’ll discuss my prediction on the COVID-19’s impact on higher learning.
It is really incredible what can be accomplished when bureaucracy and red tape are removed! What logical reason can we have for forcing physicians to be licensed in each state? Perhaps it is a relic of a time when we didn’t have the internet, or more cynically it is an easy way for a state to raise money. Whatever the reason, in today's world it is a costly and ridiculous rule.