Transforming Healthcare with Real-Time Video Technology

Howard Wu
Howard Wu

With the worldwide shift toward virtual appointments and engagement, real-time video technology is more significant than ever, especially within the healthcare sector. Howard Wu, CEO of Whereby, discusses the insurmountable importance of telehealth in an ever-digital universe.

TRANSFORMING HEALTHCARE WITH REAL-TIME VIDEO TECHNOLOGY

At Whereby, we believe that real-time video technology has the power to transform and improve everyday life. Our collaboration with medical providers over the past few years has given us valuable insights into evolving telehealth trends 

Telehealth enhances both physical and mental healthcare by offering patients more choices, encouraging proactive health management, and leading to better long-term outcomes. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one in eight people experience a mental disorder globally, and there has been a significant rise in digital mental health and telehealth services. This highlights the potential for substantial growth and innovation in care delivery. Prioritizing mental health is part of the public discussion, as are the benefits of supportive therapies and services. As demand grows, numerous platforms are emerging to modernize and expand mental health care, with real-time video calling technology playing a crucial role in this digital transformation. 

ENHANCING THE PATIENT EXPERIENCE

Regardless of rural or urban location, patients can now access treatment with just a click. Telehealth offers increased flexibility in appointment scheduling and reduces logistical challenges, as a two-hour visit to a practitioner can now be replaced by an instantly available 15-minute consultation. 

According to research from McKinsey, virtual consultations not only enhance the accessibility and convenience of healthcare but also maintain or improve the quality of care delivered, particularly for chronic and mental health conditions. The “subjective well-being” of patients significantly improves when teletherapy and telecoaching are part of their treatment. The convenience and flexibility of virtual consultations lead to a more positive care experience, alongside significant time and cost savings through reduced waiting times and travel expenses. 

By integrating virtual care options with traditional in-person visits, patients are more likely to proactively seek care. This hybrid approach enhances the speed, efficiency, and quality of treatment. Across millions of patient interactions, these behavioral changes can significantly impact public health.

Howard Wu, CEO, Whereby

INCREASING CLINICIAN EFFICIENCY

Improving patient care and experience is central to healthcare transformation, but the industry also benefits significantly. With a global shortage of quality care providers, hospitals, practitioner networks, and individual offices are stretched to capacity, causing patients to wait months for procedures and attention. 

Telehealth consultations can help address this issue. A report from the Mayo Clinic shows high satisfaction among clinicians regarding video consultations, with more than 80 percent indicating that telehealth improved the timeliness of care for their patients. By conducting a large percentage of consultations via video, practitioners can triage early, manage routine issues remotely, and augment complex treatments with frequent, less time-intensive visits. 

This approach enables practitioners to better manage their time and resources. Many initial appointments do not require a physical examination, and some types of care may never need face-to-face consultations. 

The mental healthcare industry, in particular, is embracing virtual communication, with virtual therapy sessions proving as effective as in-person consultations. 

LEVERAGING AI FOR ENHANCED CARE

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being integrated into telehealth platforms to enhance the quality and efficiency of care. One notable application of AI is the real-time transcription of patient sessions. This allows practitioners to focus more on patient interaction rather than note-taking, improving the accuracy of records and ensuring that important details are not missed. 

AI-powered transcription services can analyze and summarize key points from consultations, making it easier for clinicians to review patient information and plan subsequent treatments. These automated services can also identify patterns in patient data, offering insights that can lead to more personalized and effective care. 

However, building solutions that allow AI to capture and summarize conversations while preserving patient confidentiality and complying with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations is complex.  

Ensuring data security and privacy is of crucial importance. In response to these challenges, there is a nascent trend toward shifting AI models from running in the cloud to running locally on devices. This technological change holds the potential to address some of the privacy and sensitivity issues by keeping sensitive data local. In the short term, the solution will likely involve a hybrid approach, combining both cloud and local processing to balance security and functionality. 

By leveraging AI for tasks like transcription, telehealth platforms can create a more streamlined, efficient, and user-friendly experience for both patients and practitioners. This integration of AI is a crucial step in enabling high-quality, secure, and reliable virtual care while protecting resources and enhancing the user experience. 

OVERCOMING TECHNICAL HURDLES AND FUTURE OUTLOOK

Connecting patients and practitioners across diverse geographies presents challenges. It requires substantial investment in secure, reliable, low-latency real-time video infrastructure, which is costly to set up, optimize, and maintain. Additionally, patients need to access the service even if they lack the latest hardware or technological confidence, requiring an intuitive, comfortable, and safe user experience. Achieving this level of usability demands a significant, time-consuming technical investment. 

Despite these challenges, the incorporation of real-time video technology in healthcare is revolutionizing patient care and clinician productivity. By improving patient experiences, utilizing AI for enhanced care, and overcoming technical obstacles, telehealth platforms are creating a more accessible and efficient healthcare system. The future of telehealth looks promising, with ongoing innovations poised to further enhance its capabilities and reach. 

As we move forward, it is crucial for healthcare providers, policymakers, and patients to embrace and support the continued growth of telehealth. By doing so, we can ensure that the benefits of telehealth are realized, leading to improved health outcomes, greater accessibility, and a more efficient healthcare system overall. The impact on public health will be significant, paving the way for a future where high-quality care is accessible to all, regardless of location.

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Howard Wu is the CEO of Whereby, a leading video conferencing API for Telehealth platforms. Whereby enables the seamless integration of secure, user-friendly video calls, ensuring patient confidentiality and regulatory compliance.