Telemedicine: Remote examinations and operations are here!

Published Mar 11, 2019 • By Louise Bollecker

Telemedicine: Remote examinations and operations are here!

Telemedicine has gone way beyond conference calls: new technologies allow doctors to monitor blood pressure and other vital signs - even, take x-rays - and assist with operations from miles away.

Wireless technology is moving "healthcare outside of clinics and hospitals", said Pamela Spence, health sciences market leader at Ernst & Young, at the Mobile World Congress trade fair in Barcelona. And that is making it easier to provide healthcare in remote areas, she added.

Mobile technology for health

Participants at the mobile industry's biggest annual global event discussed how telemedicine is doing more than just connecting doctors and patients over a video or voice call. A telemedicine cabin developed by French firm Health for Humanity (H4D) allows a doctor hundreds of miles away from a patient to measure pulse rate, temperature, and blood oxygen level. The cabin, dubbed the Consult Station, is also equipped with tools that allow a doctor to perform X-rays and hearing tests.

Train physicians in these practices

Dozens of Consult Stations have been put up in France, Italy and Portugal; H4D is also carrying out pilot projects in Canada, the United States, the Philippines and Dubai. But training doctors on how to carry out a clinical exam remotely is "crucial" to the success of the service, said HD4 founder and president Franck Baudino. They have to learn how to guide the patient through the process. Doctors were initially wary of the idea of telemedicine cabins when the company was founded in 2008, but have since warmed up to the idea, he added. "Ten years ago people looked at me as if I were an alien," said Baudino, a French doctor who worked in remote African communities. "Today people still think we are avant-garde but the big difference is that 10 years ago we were talking about the future, today it is systems that are already being used."

A technology that has proven its worth

Market research firm Forrester predicts there will be more virtual visits to healthcare providers in the United States than in-person visits by the end of 2020. "Up until this point there has been relatively slow growth in the telemedicine market," said Jeff Becker, a health care IT expert at Forrester. "We do think it has proven itself in these early years and that we are going to see broad adoption."

The arrival of blazing fast 5G wireless networks, which telecoms operators are starting to roll out, opens up new possibilities for telemedicine -- such as surgeries performed by remotely controlled robots. Spanish doctor Antonio de Lacy carried out the world's first 5G-power telemonitored operation on Wednesday from the Barcelona trade fair grounds. He provided real-time guidance via a 5G video link to a surgical team operating on a patient with an intestinal tumor about three miles away at the Hospital Clinic.

"This is a first step to achieve our dream, which is to make remote operations in the near future," said de Lacy. Doctors have performed surgeries in the past using wireless networks. What 5G does is increase image quality and definition, crucial for medical teams to take decisions with as much information as possible and reduce the risk of mistakes. This next-level cellular networks also greatly reduces latency - the time it takes to get a response to information sent - of wireless networks. That means images and data are relayed almost instantly.

Necessary solutions for medical deserts around the world

Telemedicine could be especially important in developing nations. Gifted Mom, a text-messaging service and app, gives women in out-of-the way rural communities across Cameroon free health advice from doctors. By 2020, it expects to reduce the number of women who die during childbirth in the African country by at least 70 percent. Even if many patients are still more comfortable being treated face-to-face, the use of telemedicine will "definitely" continue, said Michael Barnett, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston who has studied the new techniques. "The question is where will it plateau," he added. "Use is still pretty uncommon, so it still has plenty of room to grow."

What do you think of these solutions/Telemedicine?

Would you agree to be operated on remotely?

Have you ever tried teleconsultation?



avatar Louise Bollecker

Author: Louise Bollecker, Community Manager France

Community Manager of Carenity in France, Louise is also editor-in-chief of the Health Magazine to provide articles, videos and testimonials that focus on patients' experiences and making their voices heard. With a... >> Learn more


Lee__R • Community manager
on 3/26/19

Hello members, what do you think of this article? What are your opinions and thoughts of telemedicine?

@RandyD‍ @Robbie‍ @Robbie1229‍ @Helenedwards21‍ @JamiKautzmann‍ @Vickibush‍ @Vickielgrimes63‍ @Vickie‍ @Bj7988‍ @Foxyfoxm‍ @Caprice‍ @Capricorn82‍ @Sallylee1957‍ @jmurakami‍ @Peewee‍ @Davidson3‍ @davissontiya‍ @Davidsonc3‍ @Margnbob‍ @linda71269‍ @LindaBrooks‍ @Dearluly‍ @Terri324‍ @Terrie‍ @Terrie59‍ @ninamae‍ @Blessed‍ @theaternerd23‍ @ThelmaLajeunesse‍ @theheartache‍ @TheGreatGabby‍ @thenational‍ @Robin19191‍ @Robin1965‍ @kimberley1‍ @KimberlyAnger‍ @Feehoward‍ @luingreenfield‍ @Lisajbennett‍ 

on 4/1/19

Telemedicine will be the future for general appointments with PCPs and psychiatrist. However, I think we are far away from telemedcine being the normal for specialists who need to touch or perform certain manual tests on their patients and for surgeries. I would be so scare to have surgery via telemedicine with a doctor controlling a remote!

on 4/4/19

@rtr097u1 the family dynamics of this are never that simple.  My brother is not thinking about "me, me me"  but rather his 9 year old son who as a working class father cannot afford to pay healthcare for.  I am not trying to take sides in this at all, but am simply pointing out there will always be opposition to socialized health care and most of us have reasons for taking one side or another.  Appreciate the input and thank you for taking the time to comment.  

on 4/18/19

Making medicine more accessible is hopefully helping us in the long run.

on 4/18/19

@UnschathedSpade7 I agree each has there own reasons for following one thought or the other; hopefully, we can come to a consensus as the country for the good of everyone - health and sick.

You will also like

"Scentimental": The power of fragrance on our mental health!

Read the article
What are the dangers associated with the over-the-counter sale of certain medicines?

What are the dangers associated with the over-the-counter sale of certain medicines?

Read the article
Meet Lee, Your Community Manager

Meet Lee, Your Community Manager

Read the article
Air Pollution Linked To Health Problems

Air Pollution Linked To Health Problems

Read the article

Most commented discussions