July 6, 2017
I’ve been around the internet for a very long time. I sent my first email in 1986 and was among the first to embrace online banking as a user with all the speed that a 300 baud manual modem can provide. Wherever there was useful innovation, it seems that I have managed to be on the cutting edge for the three decades since.
Therefore, a couple of years ago when my healthcare provider instituted a “Patient Portal,” I jumped in to see what was behind all the hype. What I found was a useful tool that makes my life easier and interaction with my doctors more productive.
New medical apps hit stores every day. According to the latest data, there are over 165,000 mobile health apps available for regular customers.
The idea behind all mHealth apps is to focus on either the patient’s general wellness (nutrition, lifestyle, fitness) or disease and treatment management (reminders, doctor’s appointments, notifications)
A good, user friendly medical app allows me as a patient to book an appointment with my doctor online. It saves me the time and effort of making a call and waiting to be helped.
If you dig a bit deeper, you can search for a care professional by speciality and by location. This is really important for patients like me who are in a rural setting where practitioners and hospitals can be located an hour or more away. Without that ability to find by location, it isn’t unusual to book an appointment with a practitioner and then find out there was one much closer and just as qualified.
There are also apps that even allow me to search for a specialist based on the requirements of my insurance plan. Just recently, I looked for a dermatologist in the vicinity, and a whole list of specialists displayed on my Smartphone, along with their rating and location, accompanied with appointment options.
A comprehensive app keeping personal medical record is a perfect option to unreliable and bulky paper records preserved elsewhere. If you are visiting a physician for the first time, those records are at your fingertips for reference — both for you and for the doctor. Personally I like to have it all under control.
Those records can also remind of you when to schedule procedures that you or your family regularly use on a periodic basis, such as mammograms and blood work, or even give you reminders through the day of medication that you should take. For older patients who live alone and might forget appointments or daily medications, just knowing that this vital information is at the touch of a button takes away the worry from the patient as well as their family members.
One medical app that I use often provides me access to discussions with other patients who have the same health issues, experiences and news from the clinic. There is also a feature called “Ask the doctor.” It allows me to get professional answers/opinions to specific health-related questions quickly and easily.
Just recently a friend of mine discovered an interesting application which monitors research progress and patient studies. This is a worthwhile option which aims at helping patients stay informed about treatment advancements. The more you pursue what’s going on with your condition, the safer and more reassured you feel.
With so many highly specialized mobile apps for specific health conditions, from diabetes and cardiac cases and to mental health issues, patients have a wealth of health information to reference and consult. Even so, there is no substitute for advice, counseling and the considered opinion of a healthcare professional who is familiar with you and your health needs.
Using productivity tools that include mHealth solutions at many levels increases patient care coordination, as well as physician’s and patient’s satisfaction. Mobile health has developed into an effective tool for ordinary people like me who simply want to be more proactive in our healthcare.