In an article about patient portals, the writer comments, “To be honest, I’m not a big fan of calling people and talking on the phone.” I think this sentence defines the future of healthcare technology and practice.
Healthcare is a highly interactive process. Social media, the internet, and the on-demand society have redefined most of this interaction. The statistics and implications regarding social media are staggering. Kindergarteners are learning on iPads. Colleges have stopped giving out email addresses. Generations X and Y consider phone and email passé. Parents have friended their children on Facebook. Refusing to incorporate these changes into your business is euthanasia for your company. What does it mean in healthcare?
Thankfully we are already rethinking healthcare. At least some of it. Patient portals that facilitate basic appointment scheduling, reminders, prescription renewal, and sometimes access to the patient PHR are a good start. Giving me the ability to view my immunization records, discharge instructions, and care team information is ideal. Future features will link my test results to an online encyclopedia written in my language that helps me understand my health and, more importantly, what I need to do to proactively improve.
Creating this vision is not easy. Much of the information needed is still on paper. I talked about this in a past blog. Once we get the majority of healthcare providers digital, the adoption will increase exponentially.
Today, I can manage email, photos, jokes, politics, calendars, contacts, and even directions from my smartphone. The technology that lets me manage my health is here. What’s missing is training and motivation. For decades, the healthcare system taught us to let the doctor own it. Now, my healthcare needs to become a partnership. There are many people on my care team who should be using online tools that work my way to get me healthier.
I cannot wait.