In this digital age, physicians and patients have wider access to the vast technological resources available at hand to improve their relationship with one another. The important decision-making processes can be enriched if the responsibility for medical knowledge is shared.
There are many challenges that get in the way of this special alliance between patients and providers. How is medical knowledge provided and learned? How is it exchanged and how is that information moderated for accuracy?
This new age of medicine, with its integration with modern technology, introduces the opportunity to provide care in a more tailored and adaptable fashion to individual patients as oppose to providing care based on the general outcome of a population. This idea of personalized medicine is growing quickly, thanks in part to the revolution in genomics and genome sequencing. The one-size-fits-all approach has many considerable flaws. Every individual is unique with his or her own particular combination of problems. Therefore any given health information and decisions that are made should be tailored to that specific patient. For the first time in history, advancements in technology have now made it possible to provide personalized care in a cost-effective manner.
At the European chapter of the Health 2.0 conference in London late last year, the CEO of a Portland-based company called WelVU, took to the stage to demonstrate an application designed to provide highly personalized educational videos for patients. WelVU is a visual and audial tool that physicians can use to educate patients on their health. Described as a patient-engagement platform, WelVU offers an interface that combines graphical images, such as anatomical illustrations, and verbal conversation between the provider and the patient to produce patient-specific content in the format of a simple video. With features like on-screen annotations and whiteboards, it offers a great way of communicating information in a visual form – which is especially useful for those patients who may be visual learners. The custom-made video of the patient-physician encounter can then be delivered to the patient afterwards via email or through a patient portal so that they can review the information or share it with family and friends. A study found that patients forget between 40 and 80 percent of medical information that their healthcare providers give them. Products such as WelVU can address this issue because they provide a place for patients to access health information outside their own memories. Products like WelVU can also encourage further discussion about the individual’s health beyond the consulting room. Furthermore, through this platform, patients do not have to rely on external sources, such as websites that may be inaccurate for medical knowledge. This particular application is easily accessible via the web and on the iOS platform for iPad.
Another significant barrier to better communication in the doctor-patient relationship is often the patient’s own lack of medical knowledge or training. Health literacy amongst patients needs to improve for better health outcomes and satisfaction. Patient-education apps that strive to make patients more informed are now becoming more and more prominent in the market. Boston Scientific has developed numerous mobile tools for the iOS platform that physicians can utilize to provide a more personalized education,. Several examples of these apps are CardioTeach and Pop-Q. In addition, a company called ORCA Health has been collaborating with Harvard Medical School to produce similar resources, including a collection of beautifully designed iBooks.
As healthcare providers begin to embrace the concept of digital health, the mobile application market is growing fast. Developers, patients and health practitioners are collaborating to bring new tools to the health space. Technology offers physicians a great number ways to communicate information to patients using multiple stimuli, such as audio and visual graphics. It promotes better knowledge retention, engagement and awareness amongst patients. By enhancing communication, we can directly strengthen the patient-provider relationship.
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