We are living in the era of telemedicine. How is this going to affect patients and medical professionals? What does it signal to the legacy social security and healthcare systems? What technological solutions will impact the further development of global telehealth?

Question: Good afternoon, Sally. Thank you for finding time in your busy schedule to share some insights about one of the fastest-growing areas in healthcare — telemedicine.

Some might have expected that the record growth which emerged within the last few years would hit a slump in the post-pandemic world. Surprisingly, it did not happen. How, in your opinion, has the appeal of telemedicine services changed the healthcare system in the long term? What benefits does it bring? 

Sally Ann Frank: Thank you for inviting me! 

A telemedicine program opens plenty of opportunities to patients who, for one reason or another, cannot physically reach healthcare institutions and access services there.

Physical distance to the healthcare institution is only one element. Another equally important obstacle that telemedicine helps to overcome is the cost of services. Telemedicine saves physicians and patients time, whereas the latter can better manage their condition within the comfort of their homes. Also, it allows for faster diagnostics, which enables the treatment to start before the illness has progressed. Telemedicine reduces the risk for more severe complications and, in turn, helps to avoid even higher medical bills in the future.

Question: The implementation of telemedicine faces profound cyber security threats. How can we overcome them, and who should be held accountable for the associated risks?

Sally Ann Frank: I think we are all responsible for cyber security. Patients ought to keep their passwords and personal information safe. Medical hardware-producing companies have to hacker-proof them. Also, service providers ought to work closely with patients, medical hardware retailers, and IT professionals. That’s the only way to ensure the system and data safety.

Furthermore, business leaders responsible for the information and IT systems also play a crucial role. They ought to stay alert and be ready for possible ransomware attacks. It usually takes outsourcing this to specialists who constantly monitor API, hardware, software, and networks.

Question: Excluding the cyber security challenges we’ve just discussed, what other factors can impede the proliferation of remote healthcare.  

Sally Ann Frank: Digitalization in healthcare takes much longer than in other fields. The majority of providers are just now beginning to adopt cloud services. Understandably, this adds additional challenges to telemedicine growth. In other words, we often lack the infrastructure necessary for telemedicine development.

Question: How do you think telemedicine tech could assist small healthcare institutions and private practices?

Sally Ann Frank: I would say that telemedicine could empower such businesses to grow. They could offer a broader range of services and assist more patients who suffer from less acute ailments.

Question: Can you share a couple of stories on how Microsoft for Startups contributes to the global growth of telemedicine?

Sally Ann Frank: Of course! I would love to acquaint you with some of our startups that create and build innovative telemedicine solutions. We’ve already discussed the cyber security challenges, which are difficult to overcome with existing solutions. Cynerio, one of the startups in the Microsoft for Startups portfolio, allows IT managers to have complete safety control over their clinical engineering and IoT (internet of things) ecosystems.

Another startup, Recuro, aims to transform the healthcare system from a reactive mode targeting a particular ailment to a holistic and proactive mode. Their team developed a platform catering to individual patient needs, enabling early diagnosis and personalized treatment methods. 

Question: Thank you for a truly interesting conversation!

Sally Ann Frank: Thanks to you!