Telemedicine is becoming increasingly intelligent, and virtual medical care will become a reality

US-based Intermountain Healthcare has boosted telehealth capabilities to create virtual hospitals. CIO Marc Probst said AI-based virtual assistants will also define the future of this virtual industry. One day you wake up with persistent pain on one side of your body. You want to see a medical professional, but you don’t want to make an appointment and then struggle to see a doctor. Today, most large medical facilities allow you to make an appointment with a doctor, who can then complete a diagnosis from the comfort and privacy of your home via video conferencing software on your smartphone, tablet or PC.

This “telehealth” feature has been known for years, but is gaining popularity as the industry moves from pay-for-service to outcomes-based care. Intermountain Healthcare, a health care system that operates 23 hospitals and 170 clinics in Utah and Idaho, took the concept of telehealth to another level earlier this year by launching a virtual hospital. one level.

The advent of the Connect Care Pro virtual hospital marks the acceleration of a trend. According to Forrester Research, 74 percent of healthcare clients have received or are interested in some form of virtual healthcare. The researchers also said that 55 percent of healthcare organizations are making new or increased investments in virtual healthcare technology, which they believe is critical to attracting and retaining patients.

“Patients seek personalized and convenient care,” Forrester analyst Arielle Trzcinski wrote in a recent blog post. “They won’t put up with this annoying and time-consuming experience when faced with the choice to satisfy their needs with just a click of a mouse.”


For the Connect Care Pro virtual hospital, Intermountain Healthcare initiated a total of 35 telehealth projects and assigned more than 500 medical staff. Probst said virtual hospitals save patients and doctors the time and hassle of having to face-to-face for routine ailments, such as headaches or muscle strains. “Their work is done 100 percent virtually,” Probst said of the work of doctors in virtual hospitals. Probst estimates that up to 75 percent of medical appointments can be made virtually.

This presents a huge opportunity for “Intermountain Healthcare” to more effectively treat patients who need urgent medical care, Probst said. Probst assisted in the implementation of the virtual hospital’s software and systems, including integrating it with provider Cerner’s Electronic medical record (EMR) system.

The virtual hospital has been one of the cornerstones of Intermountain Healthcare’s years of digital transformation, supporting more than 2,300 physicians and clinicians. It builds on a decade-old telehealth initiative that Probst helped expand to 12 non-Intermountain Healthcare facilities in Idaho, Wyoming and Utah.

However, he admits that the technology is not suitable for all situations. “I don’t want to have a prostate exam from my computer,” Probst said when asked about an example of having to have face-to-face treatment. In fact, while telemedicine will never completely replace on-site medical personnel, Intermountain Healthcare believes it could ease the workload of existing medical personnel, especially as by 2030, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. The population of baby boomers will exceed the number of children in the United States.

For Intermountain Healthcare, virtual healthcare is just part of a larger emerging medical puzzle that will also include AI-powered virtual assistants — think Iron Man, Probst said. Man’s housekeeper “Jarvis” for medical services. Take for example a virtual hospital or telemedicine scenario.

If someone has a health problem that needs treatment, he can find from his home smart device. com’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant, and then describe its physical condition. A virtual assistant can ask a few questions about the location and severity of a patient’s pain, while accessing the patient’s electronic medical record in the background (with the patient’s permission, of course). Ideally, the virtual assistant could give a “very close to accurate diagnosis” and recommend that the patient see a doctor in person or through a virtual health service, Probst said. The virtual assistant can then provide this appointment service.

Probst said he expects these capabilities to be integrated into the Connect Care Pro virtual hospital someday in his career. “It’s very much about digital triage using artificial intelligence and electronic medical records,” Probst said. With the patient’s permission, AI also assists with ordering prescription drugs, such as antibiotics at a CVS pharmacy or a Walgreens pharmacy, he said. Eventually, AI could extend to the diagnostic room, helping doctors as they examine patients. Today, most physicians spend a lot of time on a computer entering information into a patient’s electronic medical record.

Probst envisions a future in which computer vision and speech recognition technology can “listen” and “understand” what doctors say when examining patients and accurately enter it into electronic medical records. “It may seem far-fetched, but once we’ve proven AI is feasible, a lot of the medical work we do can be completely digitized with little or no human intervention,” Probst said.

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