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Customer Experience and Design

How the Healthcare CIO Saves Lives: #4 Makes Healthcare Available Across Vast Distance

Technologies such as mobile health, telehealth, and social portal solutions are making great waves in healthcare organizations around the world. Gone are the days where a patient needed to go to the doctor’s office to get important care. As uses for these technologies increase, and this data is integrated across the care continuum, the Healthcare CIO becomes the focal point for saving lives by connecting patients to providers across distances. Here are some of the key ways this happens:

Socially-Enabled Patient Portals: A platform where physicians and patients can work together toward their combined goals of better health. These technologies are particularly effective in rural and low income areas. These social technologies are being used to enhance the quality of care for diabetic populations in low income areas, for example. Portals are used to not only transmit data about weight and self-administered blood sugar tests, blood pressure, etc. but also as a virtual classroom to learn about nutrition, exercise, and health education. Patients are enabled with the ability to send instant messages and email to their healthcare providers and to discuss their disease with other patients via HIPAA compliance discussion boards. These technologies show great promise for providers and health plans interested in managing chronic disease, especially for the uninsured.

Virtual Visits: Healthcare providers such as Kaiser Permanente are increasingly offering virtual visits to accomodate appointments that can take place from a distance. One question often remains when considering these virtual visits. How do they accommodate care that must take place in person, such as listening to a patient’s heartbeat? There are advances in telemedicine that physicians can now call on, such as the scope-to-scope application by 3M. This innovation gives physicians the ability to hear actual heart and body sounds in real time from any distance – even space. Using this technology, and similar technologies that are surely on their way, doctors can provide care from across town, deep into rural areas, or even to astronauts at a space station.

Cellphone as a Doctor Tool: Increasingly, cell phones are being used to collect and share healthcare data. As detailed in the Project Health Design article “Using Cell Phones to Improve the Health of Babies and Children Around the World” cell phones are expanding healthcare to those with limited access. These technologies are being used for medication adhereance, disease management, health and wellness education, and safety monitoring. These technologies reduce readmissions and slow the progression of disease by providing reminders for medication and allerting providers when necessary. Check out this article from Mobi Health News on 7 medical phone peripherals you should know. Dreaming of a day when sodium, glucose, and blood oxygen levels can be monitored via nanosensor “tattoo” through the iPhone (read: no pin prick). That innovation is here and it is called Nanosensor Tatoo.

Healthcare technology is an exciting place. There is great innovation taking place in telehealth, mobile health, and social technologies that are transforming the way care is delivered. By making these technologies available, the Healthcare CIO is enabling life-saving care across great distances.

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Melody Smith Jones

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