Today’s patients have been exposed to numerous possibilities besides the ones which our forefathers would know of. This exposure has empowered this generation of patients to ask for better care, better facilities, cheaper alternatives, and more useful ways of using technology to provide healthcare as well as healthcare information. However, in spite of large amounts of information available today, a big problem that exists today is that the information is not necessarily usable when it is most needed.
- Diagnosis and information gathering
- Finding a Provider
- Soliciting Second Opinion
- Accepting a diagnosis
- Participation in research
- Being an champion or advocate
Avenue 1: Medical Information Sources
-- Create Valued Sources
-- Ensure poor sources are filtered and rejected
-- On your website, don’t only talk about you, tell the patients more about what diseases and disabilities you treat, what are the latest treatments, generic advice and maybe even help them going to right person if you weren’t involved.
-- Use tools like interactive patient forms which can be filled before the patient arrives at the center
-- Use query forms on the website so that patients can ask you about their problems and doubts; this gives the feeling to your patients that you are available to them 24/7 without actually being there
As was the case with Medical Information Sources, Advancements in Social Technology will provide new ways for sharing Provider Information.
Technology Vendors must provide easier ways for Provider information to be located and searched and which is available of different types of media.
-- Create Directories of Providers based on Provider Information
-- The Directories allow for Feedback on providers in a controlled environment
True engagement comes about through two-way, mutually beneficial
Technology must look to create multiple ways to facilitate both formal and informal Patient- Provider Communication. The telephone made a huge impact on the way we communicate, and so did email. Newer technologies must be used to offer ease of use, larger acceptance and lower costs. Many providers today communicate with their patients using skype, google chat and even facebook. Technologies must build on such success stories.
-- Provide integrations of these mechanisms with clinical and diagnostic software (EMR's, EHR's , etc)
-- Emailing of schedules and reports to patients is a must.
-- Using SMS to send Medical alerts, reminders, and schedules
-- Go the extra distance and use Social Media to provide alerts and reminders to patients via Facebook Messages, Twitter DM's, etc.
Technology Vendors must work together to create Health Information Exchanges(HIE’s) based on interlinking of Electronic Medical Records, Electronic Health Records, Laboratory Data and Patient Health Records across Providers and Patients.
They help by providing Patients with the option to switch providers easily, allowing doctors to easily refer patients to other doctors for multiple opinions, providing direct access to laboratory data for physicians along with a number of potential benefits which are expected in the future due to the creation of a huge data bank of Medical Data including Symptoms, Diagnostics and Prescriptions.
HIE’s must be designed with Programming Interfaces and sufficient freedom to allow Technology Enthusiasts and Innovators to be able to create novel ways of using and sharing the vast volume of data within HIE’s as long as patient and provider confidentiality is not compromised.
Since Individuals don’t see their lives partitioned into an online and offline world, Online communities should be given as much value as offline ones. A variety of Online Communities must come up for connecting patients quickly and privately with others who share similar health experiences.
Technology today exists not only in the form of created online communities but also online community frameworks which allow just about anyone with an idea of a community to set up an online one, full with video and audio chats, whiteboarding, discussion forums and groups and all the other good stuff.
This allows the creation for integrated digital ecosystem which simultaneously addresses both individual and social dimensions of health.
-- Allow Patients to engage with each other
-- Allow Providers to engage with this medium
- A Hospital Website provides emergency response numbers which earlier would only be found in a book. Today the website acts like an instant phone book for someone looking for these numbers during an emergency. Hence the Website becomes a good medium to share information about the medical entity for someone to access on the go. Taking emergency medicine up a notch by providing real time information through e-health channels
- A Gynaecologist’s website allows a patient to calculate her schedule for check-ups and ultrasound visits and set reminders for the same. Whereas earlier, she would have to get it written down by the Doctor, and sure enough in all that stress call the Doctor each time to confirm, how all she needs to go is go on her trusted Doctor’s website and check the dates herself. E-Health, helping people plan their healthcare long term through tools that promote and help understand what they need to do
- A Cancer patient after each chemo session feels low and unhappy, and is tired of the emotional stress involved. Being a shy person, he never talks to anyone and shies away from contact. Now online, he has a new lease of life, being able to interact and get support from patients just like him. Moreover he can do this anonymously learning how to cope with the pressure and the pain. Learning simple remedies and tried tricks from people who know and feel what he is going through. The power of e-health through patient forums, support groups and medical help portals online, allowing information flow where there was none physically
- A patient in a remote village in South India suffering from acute pain in the abdomen has to make do with the local village doctor’s prescription. A year later, a telemedicine pilot allows this same patient to get a second opinion using a remote video link and also by sharing X-rays of the abdomen using this equipment. He also is able to identify what’s happening to him via the printouts he gets from the telemedicine center and realizes that he must work at improving his diet.