Jun 30, 2020

Can Telemedicine Make Healthcare More Human?

Can telemedicine make healthcare more human?

Even prior to COVID-19, patients and providers were seeing an uptick in telemedicine entering the healthcare industry. Now, as the pandemic continues to stress test our current institutional models, using technology to connect and heal has had an accelerated increase. As telemedicine becomes the expectation rather than the exception, we wondered how might the experience become more human in the process?

To find out, we discussed the implications of telemedicine with healthcare engineering, design, and operational experts in a recent installment of our ONEder series.

Here’s what we learned:

Telemedicine is finally placing an emphasis on the user.

Traditionally, purchasers have driven the advancement and adoption of telemedicine. But today, as technology is the defining factor when it comes to the patient experience, engineers are finding new ways to make those experiences more thoughtful and human.

“Right now we’re focusing on the unmet needs of the user,” says Anarag Mairal, Innovator/Entrepreneur and Stanford School of Medicine professor. “It’s creating a better solution for patients that’s actually easier to use.

Care extends beyond video conferencing.

The term telemedicine usually conjures up the single image of a doctor and patient connecting over video with little imagination for anything else. Today’s reality is opening up new, creative possibilities that are redefining how, where, and when care is delivered. It’s an expanded vision as telehealth that takes everything from vital signs to sample collections into account.

According to Donald Cremers, Design Principal at HOK, “We’re seeing a huge potential to make healthcare spaces more dispersed. We traditionally think of telehealth from the confines of the home. But what if we build smaller, more diverse facilities? They would be more cost effective to build and easier for patients to access.”

Telemedicine can also enhance the human experience around healthcare by making it easier to refine the conversation around each patient’s health. Specialists can connect to other specialists with the touch of a button, creating a more holistic experience.

How do we make telemedicine more equitable and accessible?

No matter how big the promise telemedicine holds for the future of healthcare, it will ultimately fall flat if providers, insurance companies, and engineers can’t figure out how to make it equitable and accessible across the board. Connecting patients and doctors is one thing. Making sure those patients can afford the care – as well as access to the necessary hardware and software – is a daunting challenge all its own.

To learn more about how telemedicine is redefining the human side of healthcare, you can join the conversation here.