"In Africa and India, we are seeing a surge of telehealth technologies, leapfrogging progress in some developed countries." John Cruickshank
The combination of reduced government budgets, demographic shifts, and advances in technology have led many to conclude that telehealth will form a core component of tomorrow's health care systems. Health commentator John Cruickshank discusses this fast evolving technology — and its transformative potential for the future.
Telehealth technology continues to expand its reach. If you're not already familiar with the term, it's the process whereby a patient in one location is able to transmit personal health information to a medical professional in another location.
Patients and medical professionals may use technology devices ranging from mobile phone applications that measure and monitor blood pressure, to the deployment of home equipment that can be used to monitor blood glucose.
For John Cruickshank, UK-based health IT strategist and consultant director at Westminster-based think tank 2020health, telehealth technologies are an opportunity to address challenges facing policy-makers and health professionals.
"Telehealth technologies help span time and distance, and make best use of clinicians' time and expertise, while being more convenient for the patient," he says.
In developed countries, patients use telehealth technology in place of other existing types of services. However, in developing countries, telehealth technology is used by patients as a way to receive medical services that are otherwise unavailable.
"In Africa and India, we are seeing a surge of telehealth technologies, leapfrogging progress in some developed countries," says Cruickshank.
He predicts that its use will increase as health care budgets stretch, technology improves and patients become more familiar with the process.
"In 10 years, I think it will be accepted as a routine part of the health care process," he says.