I just got back from DeveloperWeek NYC 2018 last week, and I was able to talk with many different developers looking to use 360 degree technology. One industry that stood out was Healthcare which is aggressively looking into telemedicine or telehealth technologies.
Companies coming to the RICOH THETA booth talked about the advantages of telemedicine/telehealth: Efficiency because it saves time, comfort and privacy because it is often delivered to the home, easier scheduling of appointments with less cancelations, and lots more.
There are a wide range of applications which do not replace doctors but could be beneficial to both patients and healthcare organizations. Some common applications of telemedicine might include chronic diseases where patients need to be seen by a physician regularly; Follow-Up Visits; Prevention Care; Geriatric Support, and more.
There are a couple important trends that are improving opportunities for businesses working in these areas:
First, funding for these kinds of technologies from the US federal government is increasing:
Congress passed and the president signed a major expansion of telemedicine benefits for many Medicare patients with stroke, kidney disease and other chronic conditions.
– Contributed op-ed in ReCode entitled “Let’s make telemedicine available to all,” by Steven J. Corwin, M.D., president and chief executive officer of NewYork-Presbyterian.
Second, lower cost equipment is readily available, including near ubiquitous access to the internet but also lower cost hardware systems like the USB-connected RICOH THETA 360 degree camera and Unity application providing real-time live streaming at 4K that we were demo-ing the booth. (Concept only, not near a finished product.)
Third, we talked to companies in the booth like Call9, Blink Fitness, and Weight Watchers who are already providing telemedicine/telehealth type solutions or actively in development. This is validation of the opportunities in the space.
Call9 - “It’s Time to Bring Real-time Emergency Care to the Patient”
Blink Fitness - “Every body… Happy”
Weight Watchers - Weight Loss Program, Recipes & Help
Extra note: We also talked with several very interesting startups doing “teleassistance” for handicapped patients with very exciting possibilities for providing real-time feedback and increasing mobility. These types of Assistive Technologies for blind or low vision patients could have very high impact in certain patients’ lives.
I’m continuing to do more research in this space. If you have any examples of implementing 360 degree cameras with telemedicine/telehealth, I’d be very interested in finding out more. Please reply or DM me @jcasman with any info or comments.