Palo Alto, Calif. — April 22, 2005 — The growth of telemedicine systems in the United States is driven by the ageing population, especially in the remote areas, complemented by the shortage of physicians and nurses to attend the patients.
Technological advancements in telemedicine are enabling healthcare providers to attend several patients remotely at the same time with unified collaborative communication solutions that allow audio and video communication, web access and data/image transfer in a single stand-alone monitoring system. There are other emerging applications such as e-prescribing making life easier for doctors, allowing them to utilize most of their time in providing better patient care rather than spending time on writing prescriptions. As for the patient, he/she can sidestep the hassles of endless visits to and long waiting hours at the clinic or a hospital, especially if the patient belongs to the elderly population segment.
However, the challenge of the sector is to develop solutions that meet ever-changing customer requirements and industry standards. This involves evolving with changing patient/physician needs as well as coming out with a more user-friendly technology with easy interfaces and minimum expertise to operate it.
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“Currently, manufacturers are coming up with interfaces such as watches that can be easily worn by a patient to monitor vital signs,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Sachin Thukral. “Aside from these watches, there are innovations set to reduce the touch points or 'clicks' in solutions for easy operability.”
The endeavor should be to come up with solutions with an open platform that easily integrate with ones currently available in the marketplace so that customers do not have to incur heavy costs or make extensive changes to integrate them with these existing solutions.
“Telemedicine technology is largely an integration of telecommunications, information, human-machine interface, and medical-care technologies for enhancing the delivery of healthcare,” observes Thukral. “It may vary from telephonic discussion between two physicians on a particular case, to the exchange of patient data and images on computer networks, or to remote patient examination using videoconferencing equipment.”
Due to the nature of these long-distance operations, telemedicine technology has to be fully insured against security risks so that patients are assured that the information they send out is transmitted only to the people they want it to go to.
Although there are not many safeguards on the transmission of patient data, companies are working toward providing solutions that encrypt the data, before sending it out over public networks such as the Internet. This will ensure that there are no hacker interceptions. The move will also help in simultaneously complying with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.
With hospital environments becoming increasingly paperless, there is an urgent need for secure wireless networks. Fortress Technologies, Inc.’s AirFortress (AF) family of products has met the U.S. Government's rigorous standards of cryptographic security.
“Fortress’ security solutions protect patient data from any kind of hacker interceptions using Layer 2 encryption and its unique Three-Factor Authentication approach, which verifies access at the network, device, and user levels to guarantee a patient’s privacy,” notes Thukral.
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Keywords in this release: telemedicine, patient care, North America, human-machine interface, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPAA, AirFortress, AF, cryptographic security, Layer 2 encryption, Three-Factor Authentication