The healthcare industry has definitely begun to reap the early benefits of delivering healthcare services over long distances via video conferencing and other technologies. Telehealth enables health care providers to improve provider productivity and patient accessibility, as well as reduce costs. In 2018, we expect to see continued adoption of video collaboration solutions by health care organizations to both deliver patient care and facilitate operations and administration. But it won’t stop there.

Telehealth will be further propelled in 2018 and beyond by artificial intelligence (AI), data collection, and mobile applications. In fact, IDC Health Insights predicts that by the end of 2020, 25% of data used in medical care will be collected and shared with health systems by the patients themselves. By 2021, 20% of health care organizations will have achieved 15-20% productivity gains through the adoption of cognitive/AI technology.

Mobile applications, AI, and patient data will help shape the next phase of telehealth. Mobile applications will enable patients to collect and monitor vital signs, blood sugar levels, daily nutrition, exercise, and more. When combined with AI, these applications will provide patients with recommendations for improving health and managing symptoms. They will also send data to physicians and trigger an alert if the data indicates a problem.

As physicians and patients gain greater insight into overall health, the quality and effectiveness of telehealth will only increase, possibly at an exponential rate.

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