Telehealth – Opportunities for Cancer Treatment

Telehealth is an overall set of capabilities that enable providers the ability to "deliver virtual medical, health, and education services”. As we prepare for HIMSS 16, we thought it was appropriate to ask the question can telehealth cure cancer?  A recent article analyzing a 2014 HIMSS telehealth survey found that more than 67% of the respondents are investing in telehealth technology.  Can this technology contribute to the curing of cancer?

Telehealth areas of investment include; two/way video cams, image sharing technology, patient monitoring, and smartphone (wearables) are major elements to supporting telehealth's ability to fight cancer. 

There are a few ways that the next generation of telehealth can contribute to cure cancer; providing greater access to cancer diagnosis, treatment, and, in particular, clinical trials.  A state, like Colorado, for example, has many telehealth access points.  Imagine if each of these access points had the ability to screen for cancer and collect information to diagnose, treat, and find cancer trials.  We believe that the future for telehealth is in the capacity to link patient data with diagnostic, treatment, and research data.  This simple map developed from data published by the state of Colorado shows the number of telehealth sites across the state (in grey circles) the dark blue circles represent sets of more than 100 incidents of cancer within the 60-65 age bracket.

Wearables are technology that can be worn to track your health data.  Wearables can collect a broad range of data anything from many steps to how many hours you sleep.  The data captured by wearables is much easier to analyze compared to typical personal health record data.  We believe that in the not to distant future patients are more likely to use wearables to track diet, exercise, blood elements, and overall body statistics.

Not only is data capture easier, but wearable communities allow the user the opportunity to interact with and publish their data. Ideally, the next generation of devices would make data sharing easier, where users could share with their healthcare providers or even their insurance companies to reduce premiums. 

Through a combination of participating in telehealth facilities that have the ability to detect cancer indicators and an ability to correlate the patient’s health data with clinical trial data the number of cancers diagnosed, treated, and potentially cured will improve.  Combining the use of wearables patients, physicians, and oncologists increase their ability to evaluate more accurately the effectiveness of cancer treatments.