The convergence of the information age and new technologies has ushered in a new era in medicine in which the physician-patient relationship is largely based on the doctor-technology relationship. Today’s constantly “connected” patients have greater demands regarding how they receive information from their physicians and the speed at which it is available. At the same time, doctors need to rely on a better exchange of information with patients in order to ensure better outcomes.
We’ve compiled three technology tools that every physician should be using to help move the dial on physician-patient communication.
Skype’s the Limit
Video conferencing has emerged as one of the most cost-effective, but useful tools in remote telemedicine. The technology allows for more interaction with physicians, but can also help avoid unnecessary office visits. During a video conference, patients can communicate with their care provider and share any health concerns or even visually show physical symptoms. This new way of collaborating is growing as more practices join Accountable Care Organizations.
When One Doctor’s Office Door Closes, A Portal Opens
Patient portals are arguably a must-have for today’s physician practices and other healthcare providers. The ability to give patients 24/7 access to information is a key component of patient-provider communications. It is a gateway for patients to communicate via private, email to their doctors, or to look up important medication instructions or refill prescriptions. While more portals are emerging, the problem is patients are often unaware they exist. A recent survey by the website technologyadvice.com, found that just under 50 percent of patients knew their doctor offered a patient portal, while 40 percent didn’t know if their doctor did or did not offer one.
Pass Patients the Remote
Another form of technology, telehealth, is making rapid inroads into the healthcare delivery system. If you haven’t become familiar with remote monitoring devices, now is the time. The widespread use of remote patient monitoring is on the horizon, with the ability to gather and transmit real-time health data to physicians or to a remote diagnostic testing facility for interpretation. These devices allow patients to quickly communicate with their physicians without leaving the comfort of their own home. While nothing should replace face-to-face interaction between doctor and patient, the use of remote patient monitoring devices does help supplement the overall care plan and can contribute to better patient outcomes.
The electronic revolution in healthcare, while difficult to stay ahead of, has allowed a shared and more collaborative relationship to develop between care providers and their patients. The more patients understand, the better their ability to participate and manage their own care.