Telemedicine has been on a steady rise for decades, but the pace has exploded in the last few years. Its usefulness became especially realized during the COVID pandemic.
It has become a central component of many different types of medical practices. These include family doctors, dentists, neurologists, psychologists, speech and occupational therapists, and others.
One of the innovations that came out of this push for better and more accurate telehealth systems is face-scanning technology. This is the ability to use a patient's computer or phone camera to relay identifying and diagnostic information. It is becoming a game-changer.
This article takes a look at how face-scanning technology has revolutionized telemedicine. It lays out the many uses and explains how it can be an asset to any practice. Keep reading to find out more.
A Brief History of Telemedicine
In 1879, only a few years after the invention of the telephone, an article in Lancet discussed doctors using it to give medical advice. The motivation was the prospect of reducing the need for office visits. In 1925, magazines showed doctors giving diagnoses over the radio and imagined a future with video examinations.
The first actual transfer of medical information took place in Pennsylvania in the 1940s. Physicians sent radiology images between two towns using telephone lines.
In 1959, the University of Nebraska developed a system of two-way video communication for medical students on campus. A few years later, they used the same technology to link with the state hospital a short distance away.
Such innovations became more widespread through the 1960s and 70s. During this time, the U.S. government started investing in telemedicine research. A disparity they sought to address was the lack of medical services, including specialists, in remote areas.
The demand for telemedicine arises out of a very basic reality: most people do not plan to get sick. When they do, the immediacy with which they can receive care often translates to more desirable health outcomes.
Today, more than half of all physicians predict that virtual primary care visits will surpass in-person ones in the next few years. If you include other healthcare services like mental health counseling, dieticians, and other consultants, that percentage could be much higher.
Now, most hospital systems in the United States use online forums for patient services. They can share test results and schedule appointments with ease.
You can communicate with your doctor directly through these portals. Smart technology like fitness trackers and heart rate monitors are ubiquitous.
During the COVID pandemic, medical staff faced serious challenges in delivering care to individuals. That includes those directly affected by the virus as well as those in lockdown. Countries across the globe were forced to incorporate telemedicine into clinical workflow.
The pandemic tested the telehealth infrastructure already in place. These systems proved effective at sharing epidemiological data across distances. It also has made us take a new look at how we can leverage technology to connect patients to doctors and physicians to one another.
Both government-run and private research firms continue to invest in the development of telemedicine. New advances, such as face-scanning technology, are developed every day.
The Role of Face-Scanning Technology in Telemedicine
Face-scanning technology refers to the use of facial recognition software on computers or mobile devices to diagnose and treat patients. It allows healthcare staff to examine high-resolution images of a patient’s skin, eyes, mouth, ears, and nose. It also allows them to read expressions, emotions, and take vital signs.
Face-scanning capabilities have brought about momentous advances in telemedicine. Here are a few of the major ones and some insight into how this innovation will continue to affect healthcare in the future.
Face-scanning technology has played a major role in the accessibility of patients to treatment. It allows them to connect with their doctors from almost anywhere in the world.
This is especially useful for patients who have difficulty leaving their homes. It allows people to receive treatment from physicians that are not physically nearby. It keeps them from having to travel long distances, which in comes cases could be prohibitive.
This includes people in rural areas that lack adequate healthcare. It also allows people to see specialists in other parts of the country or world.
Regardless of whether a patient is able to travel, this saves a great deal of time and money. People no longer have to spend days away from work to receive the medical care they need. And there are no transportation costs.
Face-scanning technology allows patients to avoid doctor’s offices, which has many advantages. One is reduced crowding and streamlined check-in.
There are concerns about confidentiality in physical locations. Other patients and staff can hear your discussions with the admitting or nursing staff.
Hospital and clinic waiting rooms are places where diseases can spread. Reducing the number of people waiting in them is good for patients and medical staff alike.
Face-scanning technology is completely contactless. It allows the same level of care while eliminating the risks associated with physically visiting a doctor’s office.
Increased Efficiency and Speed
Not unrelated to accessibility, face-scanning technology allows better efficiency in healthcare. In a matter of seconds, the software can give an assessment and produce a report for the physician. This goes for initial diagnosis as well as needed follow-up appointments.
In most diseases, early detection is vital to the success of treatment. And follow-up appointments are one of the most effective ways for doctors to recognize changes in a patient’s condition.
Face recognition software has made appointments easier to set up and keep. This means faster treatment and better continuity of care that, in some cases, may be life-saving.
Facial recognition software can detect unique patterns in palm veins and fingerprints. You can use it to scan irises. Some newer, state-of-the-art systems like FaceVitals can use light reflected from the face.
This software can check health vitals. It allows doctors to screen for cardiovascular disease and the prospect of heart attack and stroke. They can use it to track improvements in a person’s condition over the course of several visits.
Since face-recognition software can take videos and images of the skin, it has become particularly useful for dermatological purposes. Doctors can use it to identify common skin conditions with the same accuracy as an office visit.
The same goes for eye doctors and dentists. Physicians can assess minor injuries and already have a lot of information about the patient, should they need to visit the clinic.
Face-recognition software also can read emotions in real-time. This can be beneficial for identifying the level of discomfort or pain a patient is in.
It can gauge a patient’s level of pain. This can assist in administering the proper flow of painkillers. Ensuring ample dosing of medicine without going over could in turn help reduce the potential for things like opioid addiction.
Facilities use face-recognition technology to sort new visitors and identify existing patients. This can expedite check-in as well as take vitals before the patient sees a physician.
Systems can help track patients across different locations or large medical campuses. For instance, it can ensure that the correct laboratory bloodwork is being conducted, even in cases of misplaced paperwork or unclear orders.
Face-recognition software can be a vital safety measure for nursing homes or mental health clinics. It can help ensure delivery of the correct treatment to someone who has removed their RFID bracelet or medical wristband. It can help in identifying a patient who is unconscious or is unable to look into iris-reading software.
Facial recognition also can help reduce the risk of misdiagnosis. Errors in medical records or diagnostic notes do happen. Facial recognition software can act as a safeguard against such mixups.
There are non-medical advantages of face recognition software as well. Medical records systems are susceptible to cyber threats. Face recognition software can be used to increase fraud detection and prevent breaches in security.
Facilities can use it to increase security in their buildings. They might flag suspicious individuals, such as recurring drug seekers or unauthorized personnel.
Use With Medical Staff
The same goes for medical staff. Face recognition software is now used to pick up on emotional issues. For instance, it can assess frustration levels and be used for burnout prevention.
This can help in scheduling leave and vacation time, which can lead to better productivity and healthier mental health among staff. This too can reduce medical errors due to human factors.
Face-scanning technology can help you be better prepared for another public health crisis. For instance, if the COVID number spike in your area or another pandemic emerges, your clinic will be able to handle the repercussions.
This means fewer canceled visits and more continuity of care. All this translates to better health outcomes for your patients. Likewise, it could be the asset that sets your clinic apart from the competition.
Proven Through Testing
Reputable facial-scanning software will have undergone exhaustive testing. For instance, FaceVitals has been tested on more than 10,000 subjects over several years. Independent studies have validated its results, yielding between 95 and 99 percent accuracy.
Learn More About Face-Scanning Technology
Now that you understand the benefits of face-scanning technology and how it has revolutionized telemedicine, you can determine if it is the right choice for your practice. It can be the tool you need to increase convenience, accuracy, security, and produce better health outcomes for your patients.
Upvio is a revolutionary healthcare technology company. We offer face-recognition software designed to empower medical professionals to provide better healthcare. Reach out to us today to learn more about our products or to schedule a free demonstration.