Dr. Kathy Nieder, a family medicine doctor at Baptist Medical Associates (BMA), is at the forefront of technology in medicine. She recently joined the HiMMS Connected Patient Committee, a committee dedicated to developing tools that connect patients with their healthcare organizations. The committee will present best practice recommendations for security and data use, and will consider the use of social media, personal health records and portals. For Nieder, these discussions hinge on her personal experiences in the BMA clinic. She’s been experimenting with technology in her office for years.
In her office, Nieder records patient education videos through Vidscrips and uses Medivizor and LiberateHealth for customized patient education. She explains cases using an anatomy app called Essential Anatomy 4 and she even has a Google Helpout site that allows her to schedule telehealth visits. She uses a patient portal in her office, too, to allow a secure environment for communicating outside the office. Nieder is constantly trying new tools to innovate in her office, but the best tool so far? A white board.
“Sometimes it surprises me that most tech-savvy individuals don’t bother to do more research, and individuals I don’t expect, especially the geriatric population, are most excited to learn about and utilize digital tools,” she says. “The white board and portal are most successful and they’re pretty low tech.”
Nieder has been working in family medicine for a while, and she links her practice style to the latin root of the word “doctor” – docere, which means “to teach.” When she brings technology tools into the office, it’s always to reinforce this point, which is why the white board is often most useful. As a primary care physician, she says that she puts an emphasis on helping patients understand disease processes and mechanisms for improving health. According to Nieder, that should always be the focus in healthcare innovation, no matter how advanced the technology gets.
Nieder says the portal has been useful for allowing patients to post a question or send information at their convenience through the secure system, reinforcing learning. “Some day soon I look forward to being able to send patients their lab reports and radiology reports online as well, but we’re way behind the curve in doing that,” she says. Her healthcare system has yet to fully implement the portal, but she uses it with her own patients frequently.
She also promotes the use of Fitbits, which she wears too. “Knowledge is power and the quantified self movement is one way for patients to understand how well they’re doing in their quest for fitness. Sometimes it can be very eyeopening – patients realize they don’t move as much as they thought they did.”
Social media has been a big topic of conversation for the members of the HiMMS committee. Nieder says that while the internet started empowering patients, social media has really fueled the e-patient movement lately. The quick dispersion of information can be good or bad, but as an educational tool, Nieder says that social media is unparalleled. “It’s where patients are and its where physicians need to be,” she says. “It provides a place for dialogue between patients and physicians, especially on Twitter.”
While all of these technological innovations are exciting, over time Neider has learned that the basics matter most. She’ll bring this insight to her work with the HiMMS committee. No matter how exciting she thinks a tool might be, her patients might not be ready for it. “As always, listening is the most important thing we can do for our patients,” she says. “While I may have learned this in medical school, it’s reinforced every day in practice.”
Are you innovating primary care? Dr. Nieder will be judging Medstro’s 2014 Primary Care Challenge to highlight the best and brightest innovators – submit your ideas now!
My passion is healthcare optimization, whether that is with innovation, making scientific discoveries, or improving delivery. I love bringing people and ideas together and making projects work. With this, medicine exists to improve lives, and I will strive to always help patients and those around me.
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