facial recognition of man

The Future of Telemedicine for Home Health Care: Tracking Vital Signs with a Camera

A key component of Remote Patient Monitoring and its successor, Remote Patient Evaluation, is measuring the patient’s vital signs. Traditionally, this has been accomplished through the use of medical devices, however unreliable or complicated, that sometimes must be operated by healthcare providers dispatched to the patient’s home. Both the devices and home visits can be expensive, thus increasing the program’s bottom-line. So if the purpose of using telemedicine for home health care is to raise patient convenience while reducing costs, how can we measure a home health patient’s vital signs accurately, easily, and cost-effectively?

The question isn’t new: Two years ago, the University of St. Andrews in Scotland began testing on technology that paired facial recognition software with Microsoft Kinect gaming software to develop a motion control-based pulse oximeter in order to measure an individual’s blood oxygen levels and pulse rate. More recently, VSee, a California-based developer of video visit platforms, has joined forces with InteloMed, creator of a non-contact monitoring system to capture cardiovascular information. The result is a smartphone app that uses facial detection and tracking software, combined with smartphone sensors, to capture physiologic data. With this software, physicians will no longer be limited by the patient’s ability to operate the medical devices at home nor by their accuracy—or lack thereof.

Researchers are also exploring the use of facial scanning technology to examine a patient’s demeanor for subtle signs of stress or emotions that he/she might not understand or be able to convey to the healthcare provider.

Theoretically, using non-contact methods for measuring vital signs would eliminate the need for positioning devices perfectly or for waiting for a medical professional for assistance, thus providing accurate information immediately during Remote Patient Evaluations. When combined with the recent updates to CPT codes that increase support for telemedicine for home health care, we could see fantastic growth in the RPE market.

To learn more about the University of St. Andrews’ project, click here.

To learn more about VSee and InteloMed’s app, click here.

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