MiniTrends affecting Telehealth

Skype TranslatorOverlapping MiniTrends affecting Telehealth include

  1. health reform,
  2. the Internet of Things,
  3. speech recognition & synthesis, and
  4. real-time language translation.

I’ve written a lot here about health reform, telehealthmedical tourism, the Internet of Things, and the overlap of healthcare MiniTrends, but today I saw a video that evolves my thinking further. It’s about Microsoft’s Skype and their newest Skype Translator Preview.

The Skype Translator video below gave me a glimpse of what telehealth might be like in 5 years or so. This vision includes the Internet, video consultations, smart sensors, and the trend of medical devices becoming smaller, cheaper, easier to use, and widely used among consumers for telemedicine. But the video consultation may be done from anywhere, in any language, and that could dramatically increase competition and result in much better outcomes at lower prices.

As you watch, imagine that it’s a conversation between you and a doctor in Costa Rica, where you went for your knee surgery and recovered on the beach in a 4-star hotel, paid for by your insurer because the outcomes were better than most any U.S. provider. It’s the sheer volume of procedures they do that led to their world-class expertise and efficiency. 

U.S. health care providers better prepare for the competition ahead, because today’s kids will likely grow up expecting real-time language translation in their Internet chats, and they won’t have a problem using their smartphones to get health care from anywhere they happen to be, and from providers located elsewhere around the world if they offer more value.