In a startup wild world, medicine-related businesses offer big opportunities for those who can tie tech knowledge to the extensive needs of the healthcare industry, and this is good news for doctors and patients alike. Companies developing diagnostic tech and new surgical tools are thriving, and hospitals are safer than ever. Compared to the rapidfire advances in so many fields, though, one sector that has gotten off to a slow start is telemedicine.

Telemedicine, the practice of meeting with doctors via online video chat, has the potential to greatly expand treatment access for people in remote areas, particularly those with chronic conditions. Unfortunately, due to HIPAA concerns, it’s not an easy industry to break into. In particular, developing secure streaming platforms that prevent data leaks, particularly when used on mobile devices, has been a challenge for these companies.

In 2017, we can expect to see some serious breakthroughs in the telemedicine industry, thanks to improved technology and enterprising companies willing to take the risks and reap the rewards. Keep an eye on these moves in the upcoming months.

Akos: Arizona’s Game Changer

With the state of Arizona facing 100% increases in healthcare premiums in 2017, the state is in need of affordable solutions for those who find insurance out of reach, particularly those with chronic conditions – and Akos has come to the rescue. Based in the Phoenix-area, local physicians developed Akos to increase secure, low-cost access to needed medical services.

Akos pairs patients with qualified physicians in a matter of minutes, safely stores medical records, and makes it possible for patients to access ongoing care without the physical or financial burden of travel and in-office visits. It has no insurance requirements and is open to anyone. This is a system designed to cut through our healthcare crisis.

Out Of The Incubator: Cellmic LLC

Formerly a UCLA incubator startup known as Holomic, Cellmic LLC offers a new take on telemedicine – advanced diagnostics without the equipment. Essentially, the company has developed ways to use smartphones for automated diagnostics, thereby bringing previously unavailable tests to those who are isolated or live in remote areas of the world.

Cellmic’s tools work without a microscope or additional lens and can enhance the offerings of telemedicine providers beyond basic care, allowing for a valuable blending of diagnostic development and direct treatment. Can’t get to the test? You already have it in your hand.

A “Remedy” For The Uninsured

One shortcoming of many telemedicine tools is that they rely almost exclusively on a quick verbal assessment by doctors without the typical pre-screening by nurses. In a typical medical setting, though, nurses are the clearing house – they make sure everything is captured accurately and communicated appropriately to the doctor. They’re the necessary first line of intervention.

A new startup called Remedy, founded by MIT MBA class of 2016 Michael Ng, seeks to bring nurses back into the loop – sort of. Remedy features an AI nurse who administers a chat questionnaire and then transmits the information to a physician for a consultation and diagnosis. As Ng demonstrated, nurses are just as important in the digital world as they are in traditional medical interactions.

If we consider healthcare a human right, then it isn’t just for those who can drive to the doctor or who live in an area of the world with access to modern medicine. It needs to be for everyone. Telemedicine can bridge that divide, but only with motivated entrepreneurs like those behind Remedy, Cellmic, and Akos changing the face of medicine to look more like a screen.