The changing face of health - why our communities are more responsive for digital interaction

Jamie Frew
Jamie Frew
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Understanding the role of digital interaction in healthcare

Digital health is a broad term and can encompass a variety of digital technologies and features. To keep it simple, digital health and technologies work across all health disciplines to provide online care and treatment for patients, and enable happier and healthier lives. They’re able to respond to new challenges and changing needs, as well as provide new opportunities for practices to expand and grow. 

It’s important to know that digital technologies and services don’t replace healthcare, rather, they allow different aspects to be integrated. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean anyone is being replaced by robots! The human aspect is still very much central, and in collaboration with digital software, you can work to improve clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. Digital interactions, such as a mobile healthcare app, allow you to elevate the quality of your services through faster payment processing, optimized booking schedules, secure clinical documentation storage, and improved communication with patients. There are endless possibilities for what technology can do in the healthcare space, and implementing it into your practice can result in immeasurable benefits. 

Which are some common digital health examples?

The great thing about digital health is that it’s very versatile and can be used for a wide variety of purposes across virtually any healthcare discipline. Digital health is constantly evolving and developing, and can be utilized in various ways to produce electronic health records, telehealth services, and more within the mental health industry. 

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) - This refers to the variety of medical devices, equipment, applications, and technologies that connect to healthcare systems. This can be anything from telemedicine technology that improves communication, to smart sensor technology that collects data. For example, with COVID-19, medical technology can easily identify those who have the virus, through simple scans. 

Electronic health records (EHRs) - EHRs are medical documents that contain relevant information pertaining to the health of patients and are stored online in databases. They provide the foundation for treatment, as well as medical billing and coding practices, and allow for information to be easily accessed in a secure way. Because they use online technology, they significantly reduce human errors that occur with handwritten notes.

Mobile services - Many healthcare practices use telehealth apps to connect and consult with clients, which makes them great for psychologists and therapists. From the comfort of your home, you can easily communicate and provide sessions with clients to work towards treatment, without the hassle of traveling or renting office spaces. 

Wearable devices - Wearable devices such as smartwatches and trackers are great technology to provide data for practitioners without needing appointments. Vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, glucose levels, weight, and any physical activity can be monitored and transmitted to doctors.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) - The use of AI can speed up processing and monitoring across a variety of tasks, including collecting patient information, identifying critical lab results, and highlighting data trends to make improvements. AI is an incredible force within the healthcare space and can be used to grow your business in no time. 

Why are communities more responsive towards healthcare digitization?

There is a growing trend with an increasing transition towards using digitized healthcare services. Because of the immense benefits that mobile healthcare can provide, healthcare practices are gradually inclining more towards implementing these systems. This is fantastic, considering that digital healthcare can do the following:

Prevent diseases - Digital healthcare is great for preventative diseases, as advanced software and AI systems can quickly detect any abnormalities in laboratory results or examinations. Because AI systems focus on iterative learning, this also means that the technology naturally evolves to become more accurate over time. Wearable devices and mobile systems also allow more accurate monitoring, and many critical signs can be picked up earlier and more easily. They have a limitless ability to increase clinical outcomes through accurate diagnoses and treatment plans. 

Greater access - Mobile health means that individuals, regardless of their location, can access healthcare services. This is especially important for those in isolated or rural communities where it may be more difficult to travel to the required specialists. Mobile systems support these individuals by allowing them to be seen from the comforts of their homes, eliminating any accessibility barriers. Greater flexibility has been shown to greatly increase the practitioner-to-patient relationships and strengthen communication.

Cost-effective - Although it seems too good to be true, having advanced technology can actually be much more cost-effective for your practice. You can eliminate overhead and administrative costs with online services, as there is a reduced need for clinical equipment and spaces. Online systems override traditional methods, such as handwritten notes, and because of appointment booking, fewer patients are likely to call to schedule. This means you can cut labor, with the staff not needed, and your savings can be used elsewhere in your practice. Nice! 

Boosted interoperability - With mobile systems and digital technology, you can ensure that your data is operable from within multiple departments and that anyone can access the information when needed. For instance, as patients are often referred across practices for different types of treatment, the relevant healthcare professionals must be able to access their records. Regardless of how far away these clinics are, different providers need to efficiently access their patient’s medical history in order to gain an accurate understanding of their condition. Interoperable systems enable practitioners to quickly pick up recent client medical information, with no delays. 

Future prospects of digital health

If you think technology stops there, you’re wrong. The digital health space is constantly evolving and rapidly developing, and the future holds many exciting prospects for you and your healthcare business. There are limitless possibilities when it comes to mobile health, and to capitalize on these opportunities, you might want to consider the following:

  1. Big data - Big data includes wearable devices, and just about anything concerning the collection of information that can be used to inform decision-making. It opens up more efficient clinical pathways, and enables more effective healthcare plans, in addition to producing valuable business insights. It tracks patient data like never before, and its capabilities are highly advanced.
  2. Cloud data - Cloud computing technologies are rapidly growing within the healthcare industry, and can help providers make informed decisions based in real-time. This includes remote monitoring and EHRs, which are only becoming more complex in capability and easier to use. 
  3. Genetic testing - Using predictive analysis, AI is working to screen individuals and predict how they will respond to treatments, which is amazing! This way, patients can be assured that their treatment is tailored to their specific physiological needs, not to mention the time and money that will be saved by avoiding costly, ineffective treatments.

There are many exciting prospects within the industry of digital healthcare, and consolidating your understanding will greatly support your practice. Taking advantage of new opportunities can present intense growth and expansion within your clinic, and can effectively prioritize the needs of your patients. 

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