Remote medical consultation services that connect doctors and patients via smartphones and other devices are spreading across Japan, with their popularity boosted by recent deregulation of telemedicine. Under deregulation in April, health insurance can now be used for such consultations, and health care startups are expected to further accelerate the development of remote health care services that use artificial intelligence amid wider accumulation of health data on individuals. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry unveiled its vision for developing and utilizing a health care database to support telemedicine applications for remote diagnosis, remote treatment and telesurgery in its proposal titled "The Japan Vision: Health Care 2035," along with changes in the social environment, including a rapidly aging population and the advancement of medical technology. As an experiment for remote consultations, this reporter tried using the health care mobile app called curon, which is operated by Tokyo-based health care startup Micin Inc. After explaining via smartphone that "I have been taking large amounts of painkillers because I have been bothered by frequent headaches and fevers recently," a doctor., who appeared in a videophone call replied, "You'll lessen the strain on your stomach and kidneys if you change your medication."
As hospitals and health systems leverage information technology, healthcare executives must advocate for caregivers to improve provider satisfaction, be prepared for a telehealth explosion, embrace machine learning and artificial intelligence, incorporate the Internet of Things, and prepare for more cyber-attacks, said Thomas Zenty, CEO of University Hospitals of Cleveland. Zenty delivered today's keynote address at Allscripts Client Experience, the EHR vendor's user conference here. The wellness of providers, the degree to which they are satisfied with their jobs, is key to operating a hospital or health system. "Physician satisfaction is at an all-time low," Zenty said. "The things we now have to do with our EHRs.
From cloud platforms for medical data and hospital smart rooms to artificial intelligence and patient-engagement technologies, the giants of the digital world are threatening to disrupt healthcare. Leading the pack is IBM and its centerpiece offering Watson Health. In just the last six months, the company has announced major initiatives into healthcare including a partnership with clinical consultation provider Best Doctors to add Watson's cancer suite to employee benefits packages, a population health management alliance with Siemens Healthineers and an effort linking IBM's PowerAI deep learning software toolkit with NVIDIA's NVLink interconnect technology. The PowerAI is already being used improve diagnoses and care plans by sifting through patient data. In October, Big Blue announced a $200 million investment in its Watson Internet of Things global headquarters in Munich, Germany.