The pandemic has been a catalyst in the movement towards telehealth, which is poised to revolutionize the medical industry. With India ramping up its technology capabilities in the healthcare domain with initiatives such as National Digital Health Mission, this long-awaited reform of India’s public healthcare infra is riding on the backbone of digitization.
Services that have been practically unattainable for a large portion of the population are now as close as a video call away. While telehealth encompasses many different virtual services, remote medical consultation, video first aid and interactive medical education and large-scale events are seeing a boom. Voice and video calls are among some of the most promising, allowing people in even the most remote places access to affordable, specialized medical aid. Telehealth has enabled users to take care of mental and physical fitness without missing a beat through the rise of apps, virtual sessions and AI based monitoring.
Agora is a global company providing video, voice and live interactive streaming platform. The Santa Clara-based startup is leveraging emerging technologies to provide the SDKs and building blocks to enable a real-time engagement platform. Founded in 2014, Ranganath Jagannath, Director-Growth and heading the India operations, discusses how DeepTech can give a push to digitization of healthcare and improve accessibility in face of adversity.
What is the role of technology like AR/VR in healthcare?
Like every industry, the healthcare sector too has undergone digital transformation. Telehealth video conferencing, AI – enabled medical devices, and blockchain based electronic health records are some examples of digital transformation in healthcare. Such technologies are completely reshaping how health professionals interact with patients, how data is shared among providers and how decisions are made about treatment plans and health outcomes.
Technology like AR and VR were traditionally used in the gaming sector but have now seen widespread use in industries like healthcare. Medical professionals are now using virtual-reality simulations to hone their skills or to plan complicated surgeries. VR headsets could also motivate wearers to exercise and help children with autism learn how to navigate the world. These technologies have been used to establish connections with patients and provide remote, personalized care during the pandemic as well as to improve medical training or surgical procedures.
How are real-time capabilities like voice, video chat and streaming increasing accessibility to healthcare
Perhaps the biggest benefit of a virtual doctor’s appointment is that it does not require a brick-and-mortar doctor’s office. With voice, video chat and live-streaming, doctors and patients are virtually brought together in real time. This allows patients and their caretakers to save time, energy, and money by addressing the issues with the right doctor from the comfort of the patient’s home. Capabilities like crystal clear audio, smooth, real time video and integrated functionalities allow patients to share their medical records, doctors to review medical imaging scans or mental health professionals to conduct remote sessions with patients.
With the increasing internet and smartphone penetration in India, live conversations can make inroads into remote corners of the country that do not have access to quality healthcare. Factors such as low latency, adaptive resolution and seamless channel switching provide a reliable stream without delay, against even the most challenging network conditions. While advances must still be made in the health care industry, video calls and streaming services signal a shift, one that will allow a growing number of Indians to receive the medical attention they need, no matter their location.
For example, Talkspace, a mobile therapy provider, reduces physical barriers to mental healthcare with around-the-clock access to licensed therapists. With live streaming, patients and therapists can sit down for engaging sessions that are on par with in-person therapy.
How are AI and ML being used in telemedicine?
Technology like AI and ML have become mainstays in digital transformation. From chatbots, voice recognition, and automated health alerts, AI powered healthcare is gaining significant traction. AI-supported features can help physicians quickly check the patient’s history, view reports, generate digital prescriptions, and always provide instant help. Combining this with ML algorithms allows medical professionals to study a patient’s case thoroughly and improves diagnostic abilities. Different algorithms can be used to give doctors a quick recommendation based on a patient’s symptoms.
AI is also finding significant use cases in areas like precision medicine, medical imaging, drug discovery, and genomics. For instance, with AI’s sophisticated pattern recognition, patients with terminal diseases can have access to personalized therapies tailored to their genetic makeup and lifestyle.
Apart from this, AI and ML are also being used for physical wellbeing, fitness, and therapy. For example, Mixpose an AI based wellness telehealth app, which uses an AI pose estimation tool to track yoga poses and assist instructors with providing feedback to users.
What is the impact of video first aid in supporting the health and wellness segment?
Video first aid has been one of the biggest gamechanger in digitizing the healthcare industry. With clear, reliable communication, video first aid provides a low-latency, high-quality connection to ensure that nothing gets lost in transmission. Doctors and patients can discuss urgent situations and potentially life-saving treatments, while recording the exchange for the patient’s medical record and to use as evidence if necessary. Video first aids have also been used in several use cases where triages are done during the ambulance ride to the hospital so the ER team can be prepared and ready for the patient on arrival. Such use cases make a compelling argument for video first aid.
For example, DrFirst’s award-winning care collaboration platform Backline, allows healthcare providers to initiate video sessions with other clinicians to discuss care plans, or with patients as part of follow-up care. There are times when a physician needs more information – visual information – about a patient than cannot be communicated through a simple phone call. It may be seeing if the patient is moving normally or evaluating if a wound is infected. In some cases, the physician may just want to provide a more interactive level of service than what a phone call can provide.
Video aid has also played a huge part in bringing the health and wellness community together. For example, Zubia is a health and wellness live streaming community where members can choose to host their own broadcasts on everything from diet and nutrition to medicine and healthcare. While plenty of health professionals host their own broadcasts, anyone can join the community, connect with others, and share valuable information.
How is Agora enabling treatment of patients as well as teaching medicine with real time digital experience?
Agora’s real time engagement platform provides global reach, reliable streaming, and real-time interactions for remote medical consultation, video first aid, interactive medical education and large-scale event streaming. Real-time engagement is not just applicable for physical health care issues, but mental health issues are also being addressed via voice and video-based teleconsultations.
Training of students and doctors using live video overlayed with Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR) adds a completely new dimension in the medical training and teaching domain. With Agora’s Real-Time Engagement Platform, medical professionals can share their expertise remotely, either through webinars, by live streaming surgeries or other procedures, or by offering one-on-one voice and video consultation, or in small group discussions.