Despite what some might lead you to believe, the future of healthcare will not be driving your car to your next doctor’s appointment. It will be logging into a website or mobile app for a video consult with your team of healthcare providers from your home. Experts estimate that there are more than one billion physician consults in the United States each year and more than 50 percent of them could be done online. Telemedicine is in its infancy and will fundamentally change the structure of society in the United States as we know it.


Here are five trends to be on the lookout for as telemedicine evolves in the future:


1.    The Global Obesity Epidemic:


One out of three Jamaicans are obese and another third are overweight. Obesity and being overweight are risk factors for the most preventable conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The current Jamaican healthcare system has failed miserably to address this epidemic. As this trend continues, technology companies will step in and obese patients will be prescribed digital therapeutics such as online wellness coaching with a registered dietitian who will monitor their exercise, sleep, and nutrition data from their Apple iWatch.


2.    Integration of Real-Time Wearable Device Data With Video Consults:


More than 90 million wearable devices will be shipped to consumers in 2014. This lifestyle data will be integrated into centralized locations such as Apple’s Health Kit. EMED services will integrate wearable device data into wellness and telehealth portals. Users will be able to do video consults with their healthcare providers while screen sharing, exercise, nutrition, sleep, and other types of data transmitted from their wearable devices. Online health coaching programs will use wearable devices and video consults to address the global obesity epidemic and help people live a healthier lifestyle.


3.    Enhancement of Hardware in Wearable Technologies:


Software companies such as EMEDHEALTHTECHNOLOGY.com will act as centralized hubs for telehealth and wearable device data. As wearable devices become more advanced, it will make online wellness software more robust. For example, technology which is coming out this year will analyze your liquid decisions in real time - beer, water, wine, or coke will all be recorded in the cloud. New devices will allow you to perform urinalysis at home. Exercise sensors will be embedded in clothing such as Ralph Lauren’s new wearable fitness shirt. WiFi cooking boards will measure your food by weight as you cook. Wearables will help us live the healthiest lifestyle possible and enables health coaches to steer us in the right direction with the data they collect.


4. Adoption of Lifestyle Medicine in Primary Care:


In June 2012, the American Medical Association adopted a resolution that called for all physicians to "acquire and apply the 15 clinical competencies of lifestyle medicine, and offer evidence-based lifestyle medicine interventions as the first and primary more of preventing and, when appropriate, treating chronic disease with clinical medicine." This provides an enormous opportunity for primary care physicians to use wearable devices to monitor the diet, exercise, sleep, weight, blood pressure, blood glucose, and other types of data using wearable devices. In the future, primary care physicians will each have a health coach in their practice to monitor the wearable device data of their patients and do telehealth consults.


6. Big Data and Machine Learning:


The current approach to obesity is a one-size-fits-all model. In the future, wearable sensors will feed into a centralized personal health record and will make algorithmic recommendations to your lifestyle such as exercising more on the weekend and making dietary recommendations. Computer science will assist healthcare providers with making real-time lifestyle recommendations to patients on a daily basis.