The use of electronic health records, or EHRs, is rapidly increasing in the medical world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in November of 2011 that the adoption of basic EHRs by physicians’ practices has doubled, from 17 percent in 2008 to 34 percent in 2011.
Imagine getting a call from your doctor if you let your gym membership lapse, make a habit of buying candy bars at the checkout counter, or begin shopping at plus-size clothing stores. For patients of Carolinas HealthCare System, which operates the largest group of medical centers in North and South Carolina, such a day could be sooner than they think. Carolinas HealthCare, which runs more than 900 care centers, including hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices, and surgical centers, has begun plugging consumer data on 2 million people into algorithms designed to identify high-risk patients so that doctors can intervene before they get sick. The company purchases the data from brokers who cull public records, store loyalty program transactions, and credit card purchases.
Before you jump all over me, I have already outlined why I think we (doctors and medical offices) are the biggest part of the wait time problem. But, patients can help. Here are 3 ways you can help avoid long wait times at the doctor’s office.
An estimated 65 percent of the population are thought to be visual learners – people who retain information better by seeing pictures and videos rather than reading text or hearing information delivered orally. In fact, the percentage of visual learners may be much higher (some studies put the figure as high as 85 percent), depending on the methodology of the study and the categories of learning styles included.
Couple that with the sobering statistics from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy showing that nearly half of American adults demonstrate low levels of literacy, and it’s clear that there is no downside to doctors incorporating high-quality visual elements into their patient education materials. Not only will you improve patients’ comprehension of their health and treatment – you may even increase compliance as well.
In another sign of the changing times, a new CDMiConnect report says that patients are using their mobile devices in waiting rooms and, to a lesser extent, exam rooms, more and more to search the Internet for information about the particular health problem that brought them to the waiting room in the first place.
3000 patients, all 18 years of age or older, were surveyed for the report, named “The Patients First Reports: In-Office Mobile Device Use.” Deb Deaver, agency president for CDMiConnect, said that these 3000 patients had over 200 different health conditions and were surveyed in order to “understand the impact of healthcare at our fingertips and uncover how it has influenced the roles we play in each other’s lives.”
Mark Matulaitis holds out his arms so the Parkinson's specialist can check his tremors. But this is no doctor's office: Matulaitis sits in his rural home as a neurologist a few hundred miles (kilometers) away examines him via the camera in his laptop.
Although some physicians and hospital leaders utilize social media platforms, many healthcare executives still express considerable skepticism. As a physician who uses various social media services to keep up on industry trends, I'm continually impressed by how innovative healthcare leaders and consumers use these tools in new and imaginative ways.
In late April 2014, Twitter announced it will allow researchers to data mine its archives of hundreds of million tweets to try to discover actionable correlations that can be of clinical utility.
In the mid-2000s, Dr. David Van Sickle had a more critical cause in mind. While working as a respiratory disease detective in the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, he didn’t need to dig much to identify a major problem in the health care system. That was easy as breathing—breathing for him, anyway. “People think about asthma, and think we must have a handle on it in the U.S.,” Van Sickle said. “But the grim reality is that most patients’ asthma in this country is uncontrolled. There’s a higher rate of going to the hospital than there should be. We have been doing the same thing about asthma for years, and we have made basically no dent in hospitalizations. The majority of those people think they are doing fine, so no one treats them with a course correction. And, so, there’s inexcusable morbidity. There’s this really ridiculous gap between what we should be able to do and what we’ve been able to accomplish.”
Many people may be willing to link their social media accounts to their medical records, a US study suggests, a shift with the potential to improve care by giving doctors more insight into what makes patients tick.
While many mobile health initiatives involve medical care received in-home, or remote conferencing at hospitals and medical facilities with out of area specialists, there are other ways in which mHealth can be delivered.
Despite looking similar to the standalone units in a mall where you might buy an engraved novelty item or rejuvenating skin care cream, kiosks can and should be taken seriously in the modern world of telemedicine and mHealth.
Recently the Mayo Clinic launched a pilot program that allows mobile video kiosks to be located in places of employment. In short, they provide employees access to express medical care for non-life-threatening conditions, the Minneapolis Business Journal reports.
The healthcare industry is facing a dilemma: how to actively and effectively engage patients. A recent blog post –Part 1. The Unengaged Patient and The Patient Engagement Concept – details the struggles facilities, physicians, and public-health officials face in terms of patient engagement. With the roll-out of a relatively new concept called patient engagement, goals and initiatives have been put in place to engage patients of any age.
However, goals need tactics, specific actions, to achieve this overall patient engagement concept. With that being said, here are 3 ways providers, facilities, and officials can engage the unengaged patient:
The technology is out there, and the patients are ready for it, but what about the providers? As we mentioned before, even the early stages of embracing early EHR implementation has led to provider frustration and hesitation. But there are professionals out there that think that the gap between patient need and product limitations can be filled adequately by the provider taking both into consideration upon clinical application. One such professional is Steven Beck, CMIO of Catholic Health Partners’ (CHP).
Beck’s organization, which is the largest health system in OH, has been recognized for successfully integrating a standardized EHR system developed by Epic throughout all of its hospitals and employed physician practices. The initiative was known as Care PATH (patient-centered access to team-based healthcare).
“So, what are you doing to deal with your disease?” I ask her. We meet on the wards while I am a first-year medical student practicing my history taking. She’s recovering from her sixth surgery.
“I use Facebook a bit,” she says. My eyes look up from where I’ve nervously scribbled the various components of the medical history I’m trying desperately to remember: chief complaint, history of presenting illness, past medical history, family history. Social media history isn’t on that list.
“Can you explain what you mean by that?” I ask, politely, unsure of what this has to do with her pathology.
Anna tells me about her life: the multiple surgeries, the debilitating pain, the emotional challenges during adolescence trying to fit in at school. She discusses the back braces, the medications, and trying to live a normal life without letting her condition define her.
She then proceeds to tell me about a vital part of her medical history that no lecture or preceptor has yet prepared me for.
“I’m part of a Facebook group for people with scoliosis,” Anna says. She tells me that, while modern medicine has done everything it could to correct her curvature and manage her condition, she, like many people with chronic illnesses, continues to suffer, often in silence.
“All changed, changed utterly.” W B Yeats’s famous line was triggered by the Irish rebellion in 1916. Close to 100 years on, it could describe how digital technologies and social media are changing the world; not least the world of healthcare. At the Doctors 2.0 & Youconference—launched and led by Denise Silber, a Paris based digital health consultant—delegates fizzed with enthusiasm. Their tweets contended with the dawn chorus, as word was instantly spread about “le dernier mot” on health apps, “serious” games for health, “wearables” (think Google Glasses), and the use of social media in health (#doctors20). And on how big data around the global, online discourse on health is being tracked and analysed.
In contrast to many health fora, patient representation was strong, and their contributions equally so. Those who have found the willpower and energy to use their experience of illness to innovate, and help others, tend to be effective advocates. A well known example is e-patient Dave (deBronkart), author of Let Patients Help, which is a must read for doctors and patients alike. He defines e-patients as “empowered, engaged, equipped, and enabled.”
If you read some of the stories online you would thing that eventually patients won’t need health care professionals, they will be to do everything online with the help of the Internet and mobile apps. Frankly that is a load of garbage and biopharma should not reach for the hyped golden carrot.
In this day and age of limited time with doctors coupled with ample opportunity to google anything, the temptation for people to reach their own conclusions about their illness is strong. Spend enough time searching the internet for any given symptom and you’ll eventually end up with grave prognosis. Easy access to information does not negate the need for a professional opinion.
It’s a demanding healthcare consumer and patient out there. Active in social media, they are used to being engaged across a wide spectrum of industries on their terms. So why should that be so different in healthcare?
Smart phones, tablets and applications are ruling the day and virtually no age segment is immune from that transformation of how they are engaged by organizations. How a hospital and health system as well as physicians engage patents and the growing healthcare consumer in the form of the newly insured, dictates the effective and efficient use of social media as part and parcel of the engagement strategy.
In December 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) extended Meaningful Use Stage 2 and Stage 3 deadlines after healthcare providers and electronic health record (EHR) developers lobbied for more time to improve interoperability, patient engagement, and other requirements. In particular, patient engagement has been at the forefront of the meaningful use movement recently. This is likely due to the fact that as the industry adopts a system more heavily focused on value, giving patients access to their health information has become a critical way to make healthcare more patient-centered, and in turn, value-based. However, with requirements such as mandating that five percent of patients communicate with healthcare providers through secure electronic messages, many hospitals and physician practices are becoming increasingly nervous about meeting patient engagement standards. To help boost patient engagement and calm some meaningful use concerns, here are three ideas for healthcare providers to consider implementing if they are concerned about patient engagement.
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