According to a recent study by scientists at Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University, 47% of people now use technology to communicate with their healthcare providers. Online portals, booking systems, and filing programs have all been rising in popularity across healthcare providers for around a decade now. And when COVID-19 left doctors and hospitals with no choice but to treat patients remotely, these technologies became a lifeline.
The ongoing healthcare shortages and general changes to healthcare practices mean that healthcare tech systems like these are here to stay. Despite obvious doubts about such a notable change, many patients are benefiting from the switch.
By providing a more direct line of communication between healthcare providers and their patients, patient portals that make it possible to remotely manage everything from bookings to forms are providing countless patient benefits. Despite initial fears surrounding data security, fully secure healthcare tech systems are especially bringing the following industry-changing plus points to the fore.
Streamlined patient care
Whether they need to create a patient intake form, order repeat medication, or access a patient's medical history, a healthcare provider making full use of intelligent tech can achieve all of these quickly, efficiently, and in a streamlined manner that healthcare has never seen before. This makes for significantly improved patient care that's more efficient, safer, and secured against data protection breaches.
There are also platforms that include smart tech that can notify providers on how a new medication is likely to react with any existing ones. Healthcare providers are then able to offer more correlated, informed care, even to patients whom they're seeing for the first time.
Recent years have seen patients waiting as long as three weeks for an appointment with their primary physician. Meanwhile, we have an aging population that's stretching healthcare to its limits, which means that even getting care providers on the phone can be tricky.
By comparison, quick, always-available online booking enables patients to more easily choose appointment types and times that suit them. This significantly increases appointment accessibility, while the removal of paperwork and complex booking processes can, in theory, free up much-needed appointments that may reduce patient backlogs.
Doctors making use of telemedicine and video software can also see larger numbers of patients on any given day, making more appointments available for minor ailments, and also ensuring that they have increased availability to see patients in person when required.
Healthcare that's traditionally involved hidden paperwork trails and doctor-to-doctor communications has never been the best for full care transparency. But with patient portals enabling patient access to entire medical files, technology is changing all of that.
Now, with access to medical files from traumatic experiences that no one may have explained in the past, patients can easily track things like medical referrals, correlated care paths, among others from the comfort of their homes and at the click of a button.
While healthcare providers should be checking this information primarily, the ability for patients to take control in this way can help them to gain understanding, clarity, and autonomy when it comes to their own healthcare journeys.
Crucial data analysis
While healthcare providers need to be aware of HIPAA compliance with regard to data use and hacker risks, receiving patient permission to collect app-connected data from things like pacemakers and stents could transform research landscapes.
These pieces of equipment, which are now often built with Wi-Fi connectivity, can provide untold amounts of data regarding everything from patient sleep patterns to weight and even blood glucose levels. All of which can be used to help healthcare better understand risks, benefits, and care management gaps to improve the health of future patients. This focus on a more individualized care model simply wasn't cost-effective even ten years ago but, while liability and capacity issues are still in place as it stands, technology could soon make it possible.
Technology in healthcare has by no means been plain sailing, and there are plenty of people who rightly continue to resist tech that sometimes takes the human element out of healthcare. With that said, when providers use the right software in the right ways, they can deliver improved care that actually brings them closer to patients than ever before. Patient portals, in particular, are enabling true care transparency and improved availability. The looming possibility of app-connected data analysis could also prove transformative.
One thing's sure - technology could be the thing to save a healthcare system that, for too long, has seemed irrevocably broken.