Posted in Ehealth, Video

The Future Is eHealth

eHealth is a relatively new term used to define healthcare practices that take place with the help of electronic processes and communications.   Electronic medical services of all kinds have fed into a growing need for efficient information gathering, and many people make use of health apps and websites on a daily basis. On smartphones there are apps that help with fitness and food tracking, apps that provide information about health concerns or conditions, apps that guide the user through difficult subjects and a host of other useful services; and in tech too, there are various gadgets that regularly assist users in maintaining active and healthy lifestyles. Smartwatches now track stats and update with phones to provide up to date information, websites give advice on how to deal with conditions effectively without visiting the hospital or doctor, and every month new technology is created to track and interact with our bodies.

This short video by Health Express demonstrates how the Internet of Things (IOT) is likely to play a major role in revolutionising healthcare.

Posted in Doctors 2.0, E-Patient, Ehealth

Hangout With Doctors 2.0

I had the pleasure this week of moderating a discussion on e-patient and physician relations for a Doctors 2.0 & You Google hangout.

The  panel which included Denise Silber (founder of Doctors 2.0), Jamie Tripp Utitus (MS survivor and health blogger) and Renza Sciblia (diabetes consumer and health blogger) discussed the ways in which new technologies are contributing to the patient/physician relationship. 

Relationships in medicine are as important now as they were in the past. The difference is that today’s technology allows physicians and patients to communicate on a different level.  The panel listed some of the new technologies that are changing the dynamic between the patient and the physician, and how the balance of power has shifted. This led to a discussion on how some doctors view the empowered, digitally savvy patient as a challenge to their authority and expertise. Jamie suggests leading physicians gently towards a discussion on health technology, while Renza sees this as an opportunity to broaden the relationship between doctor and patient, fostering more openness and honesty in the relationship.  She suggests that patients interview their doctors in advance to find the level of collaboration they are happy with.

Speaking to the numbers of doctors who embrace new technologies, Denise suggests that this is a multi-factorial problem, encompassing people skills and financial remuneration. Michael Weiss, listening online to the discussion, asked the panel for their thoughts on the future of medicine being the convergence of ehealth, mobile health and social media. The panel were all in agreement that this is the future of medicine, and spent some time on the important role that social media has to play in supporting and educating patients. Blogs and Twitter chats are great vehicles for healthcare professionals to learn about the lived experience of a condition.

The discussion ended with each panelist offering one piece of advice to physicians to help them prepare for a future where patients are empowered by new technologies. Renza’s advice is to just step in there and offers the reassurance that the majority of patient sites online are very well moderated and provide accurate information.  This is not about replacing the doctor/patient relationship, but augmenting it.  Jamie refers to Dr. Charles Safran’s quote that patients are the most underutilized resource in healthcare, followed by Denise quoting that the patient is the first member of the medical team.  The discussion ends with Jamie’s call to patients to join the healthcare conversations online – to find answers and support and Renza emphasizing the peer-to-peer support and power of community that can be accessed online.

Posted in Ehealth

Using Online Health Communities to Deliver Patient-Centered Care to People With Chronic Conditions

A study of the use of Online Health Communities (OHCs) as a tool to facilitate high-quality and affordable health care for future generations. The study concluded that OHCs are a powerful tool to address some of the challenges chronic care faces today. OHCs help to facilitate communication among professionals and patients and support coordination of care across traditional echelons, which does not happen spontaneously in busy practice.

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Posted in Ehealth, Public Health, Reports

World Health Organization Calls For Innovative Health Solutions

World Health Organization  publishes an annual compendium chronicling innovative medical devices and eHealth solutions suitable for low resource settings. It presents a snapshot of several health technologies which might have the potential to improve health outcomes or to offer a solution to an unmet medical need in low-resource settings

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Posted in #HCSM, Ehealth, Health Literacy, Public Health, Research Reports

Low-Income Patients Interested in Digital Health Communication

Many lower-income patients say they would like to communicate electronically with their health care providers but are unable to do so because of insufficient technology at the clinics where they receive care, according to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Medical News Today reports.

The study found that:

  • 78% of the study participants expressed interest in electronic communication with their health care providers (Martinez, “On Central,” KPCC, 2/27);
  • 60% said they use email;
  • 54% said they obtain information from the Internet; and
  • 17% said they already use email to communicate informally with their health care providers.

Adam Schickedanz — lead study author and medical resident at the UCSF Department of Pediatrics — said, “Our work makes it clear that lower-income patients from a wide variety of backgrounds want to be part of the health information technology revolution.” Schickedanz added, “The question is whether they will be afforded the opportunities to take part in the same way as their middle- and higher-income peers.”

Urmimala Sarkar — senior author and assistant professor of medicine with the UCSF Department of Medicine — said, “Electronic health-related communication is becoming the standard of care in well-resourced settings, and should be implemented and supported in resource-poor settings.”

The researchers recommended that future research examine preferences among diverse patient populations for electronically communicating with health care providers. They noted that such research might look at the benefits of tailoring existing communications systems to specific languages and literacy levels (Medical News Today, 2/27).

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Posted in E-Patient, Ehealth

Patient engagement important, but loosely defined

What exactly is patient engagement? According to the National eHealth Collaborative’s 2012 stakeholder survey released last month, there is little agreement among health leaders. They currently use a variety of definitions that range from patients having access to educational materials to patients using their own electronic health record to transmit data to outside organizations.

Survey respondents were asked to choose their two top definitions from among 10 choices. They also could write in their own definition. The top five responses include:

Patient uses educational material and online resources to learn about better health or their own health conditions (64.0 percent)Patient uses tools and resources to manage his or her medical record and other health data (58.7 percent)Patient feels comfortable challenging doctor when something doesn’t seem right or when explanations are not clear (41.3 percent)Patient feels comfortable discussing health issues and questions with doctor or nurse face-to-face (38.4 percent)Patient communicates with doctor about changes in health status in a timely way (38.4 percent)

Survey respondents may not define patient engagement the same way, but an overwhelming 95 percent said the issue is “very important” or “important” in transforming healthcare. Only 5 percent called it “somewhat important,” while no respondents characterized it as “not important.”

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Posted in #HCSM, #HIT, Ehealth, mHealth

Resource guide points cancer patients to digital coping tools

The eHealth Initiative (eHI), a non-profit organization whose mission is to drive improvement in the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare through information and technology,  has unveiled its first-ever Health IT Cancer Resources Guide, a comprehensive overview of the digital tools and technologies available today that help patients and their families, caregivers and support networks understand, treat and cope with cancer.

The guide lists 76 tools ranging from mobile applications to web sites to social networks that aim to improve cancer care. It was developed by eHI’s National Council on Cancer and Technology, which included representatives from American Cancer Society and American Society of Clinical Oncologists, and is organized in five sections: decision making, education, treatment management, social support and lifestyle management.

eHI developed the guide based on the findings of the Issue Brief on eHealth Tools and Cancer Care, a review of 124 articles, which examined how telemedicine, mobile health, internet-based technologies and social media are being used in cancer care today. The issue brief highlighted the meaningful impact eHealth tools have on care including the removal of geographic barriers, enhanced decision-making capabilities and improved patient-provider communication.

To view the full Health IT Cancer Resource Guide click here.