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Artificial Intelligence Pushing Telemedicine in the Right Direction

By Pharma Tech Outlook | Monday, February 11, 2019

Logistics is traditionally associated with the package delivery industry. It is a complicated process and companies are turning to new technologies like artificial intelligence to optimize their operations. Healthcare space can benefit from the implementation of shipping logistics. For example, a healthcare organization with multiple locations staffed with specialists and doctors who are not interchangeable and are operating under numerous scheduling constraints. This organization uses spreadsheets and ineffective planning along with the poor allocation of resources which leads to their poor utilization. This is not only wasteful but will also cost money to the organization.

Approaching telemedicine with a logistical mindset makes sense. This space is predicted to grow up to $66 billion by the end of 2021. Telemedicine came into the scenario because of the need for practitioners in remote or rural areas with a shortage of specialists. Over the years, the adoption of telemedicine has been slow owing to regulatory barriers, inconsistent coverage, and unfavorable reimbursement models. With time, these barriers have started to fall pushing the use of the model. 

The most effective use of telemedicine is in the area of teleconsults where an organization can consult a remote specialist regarding an issue. Isolated patients can benefit from this solution and get better diagnosis and treatment decisions. The ability to get experts according to need across isolated geographical areas ensures patients of improved care and reduced costs.

The healthcare space is facing an issue of combinatorial explosion. This issue is mainly due to hundreds of doctors with their specialties, working at all different times of the day at various facilities. The sheer number of combinations is a challenge in matching physicians to patients. The core of this service is to create a lean network of specialists with different areas of expertise available on demand. From a mathematical point of view, it requires massive logistics to make this model efficient and effective. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) can solve the combinatorial explosion. It can take massive amounts of data, understand complex constraints, and intelligently compartmentalize the time of physicians around the network for excellent logistical understanding. The real power of AI lies in its ability to scour the through all the possible doctors, facilities, schedules, space combinations, and more. So, instead of manually finding the schedules, artificial intelligence allows the computer to chart a course. Telemedicine has the potential to transform health care delivery, and this kind of proactive, pragmatic approach to telemedicine can push it in the right direction.

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