5 ways health care is getting simpler
Remote care products are helping patients manage their conditions and get the care they need when they need it.
It used to be that to see a doctor, you had to either make an appointment well in advance or rearrange your schedule for urgent care the same day.
That’s because new products are making it easier for patients to get the care they need at the times that work best for them. These new products are also making hospital stays more comfortable and productive.
Studies show that this type of care, which includes being examined by a doctor from afar, making behavior changes, and managing symptoms on one’s own, really works. We’re seeing improved outcomes of expensive and hard-to-manage conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, and heart disease.
Because of this, many healthcare providers are relying on such smartphone, wireless, and sensor-based programs to deliver care.
What’s also exciting is that remote care can be used in several ways.
Modern hospital stays no longer require you to be awakened for a battery of tests or a long wait for a doctor or nurse to review the results.
That’s because wearables – or small, disposable medical sensors that keep track of vital signs and tell healthcare teams when something is wrong – are being used in hospitals across the country. Not only are they more comfortable for the patient, but they are easier for doctors and nurses to work with since they don’t come with wires and tubes. It’s estimated that 5 million sensors will help patients this year.
Biosensing wearables are also being used. These include digital blood pressure monitors and glucose sensors that offer information in real time. What’s more, smartphones now have sensors that monitor body changes in the user.
Online video appointments
Sometimes it feels impossible to get to the doctor’s office.
Enter the virtual visit. By video chatting with a doctor through a computer, smartphone, or other mobile device with a camera, patients can access care at home, at work, or on the go.
Online video consultations also offer advantages. Doctors can see more patients and practices can reduce waiting room congestion.
Online patient portals
At a time when we log in to pay bills and shop, it makes sense that we would stay in touch with our healthcare providers through online patient portals.
Hundreds of thousands of patients are using secure websites to ask for prescription refills, see the results of medical tests, and even email with their doctors. No need to be put on hold while someone checks your record, or to leave a message for a busy physician.
It helps patients and healthcare providers. You have a better understanding of your care and condition. Your doctors find it is a less expensive way to run their practices.
In addition to communicating with their doctors, consumers are turning to technology for other healthcare needs. Today, 40,000 mobile apps are categorized under “health and fitness.” They are used for everything from weight management and sleep monitoring to setting fitness goals and tracking daily steps.
They are also being used by plan members seeking mental health treatment and are especially helpful in this area since they are easy to use and rewarding.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic looked at a health program available online and on a smartphone app that gave patients information on how to be healthier. Cardiac rehab patients in a digital health program had less cardio-related ER visits and rehospitalizations, had lost more weight, and adopted better overall lifestyle habits.
Home medical devices
After leaving the hospital, many patients have long recoveries at home and those with a chronic condition must check in with their doctors regularly.
To get rid of the need for office visits, home medical devices are now being connected to remote healthcare facilities. There, staffers track the data sent by the devices and send an alert when they signal a dangerous medical situation. It’s estimated that by the end of this year, 19 million people globally will be monitored by a remote professional caregiver, a 533 percent jump from 2013.
These numerous remote care options are valuable reminders that your health shouldn’t take a backseat to your busy day.
Manage your health on the go
Search for a doctor, use your ID card and view your benefits with the Blue Shield of California app.