Technology is changing the way we find and use health care. We’re shifting away from yesterday’s health care model – a reactive system with too much paper. We’re moving to a patient-centred, streamlined and proactive approach. As the system adapts to include new technologies, there are many benefits.
For example, in the past you would always call to book an appointment with your doctor. Now, you could use an app to connect with a doctor on video chat in seconds. There are apps to guide healthy habits with meditation, fitness tracking and more. Overall, these technologies can make health care easier to find, manage, use and compare. With them, our doctors can stay more connected to each other and us. Diagnosis, management and treatment can become easier. And we can use the digital tools available to us to be more proactive about our health.
Let’s dive into five ways technology is changing health care.
1. Easier to find
Thanks to the web, health care is only a quick search away. For example, Lumino Health has mapped over 150,000 health care providers across Canada. These include registered massage therapists, psychologists, family doctors and more. Ratings, location and cost information give patients the information to make the right choice for their needs. Health care is the next frontier.
2. Easier to use
Consider a scenario: your job is very stressful and you think you might be burning out. You’re willing to see a psychologist but you work long hours and it’s tough to get to an appointment. Enter virtual care. Companies like Inkblot and Hasu eCounselling offer specialized services such as virtual access to a mental health therapist. Tools like this are changing how we access health care. They cut down the need for in-person appointments and reduce wait times for patients to see a health professional.
3. More connected
The Internet of Things – meaning devices with Internet connectivity – goes beyond connected watches and refrigerators. Devices like Qardio’s smart blood pressure monitor help you track your results over time in connected apps. You can understand your results better with explanatory charts produced by the app and share them with your doctor.
Electronic medical records (EMRs) are promising for the future of health care too. A white paper by Stanford Medicine outlined positive ways EMRs could overhaul health care in the coming years. EMRs could make it possible for your family doctor, hospital and other health-care providers to share information seamlessly. For example, today your doctor might rely on you to tell the hospital which medications you take. With an EMR, the hospital could access a chart that is shared between providers. This process will be faster and more reliable resulting in better patient care.
4. More accurate
From diagnosis to treatment, health technology has the potential to make medicine more accurate and precise. The Canadian Medical Association’s 2018 report on the future of technology in health describes some ways this can happen. For example, machine learning algorithms could read x-rays more accurately. They could also analyze the look of skin lesions to help diagnose skin cancer. Advances in genetic testing mean that for some diseases, doctors can target treatment to your individual needs. Breast cancer treatment is a good example of this.
5. More proactive
The future of digital health is bright. What’s the biggest change in health care you expect to see from digital advancements in the coming years? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook @getqardio & @luminohealth.
Contributed by Lumino Health, Canada’s largest health network and an innovation from Sun Life. Lumino Health is helping Canadians live healthier lives. We connect them with information, resources, and the right health-care providers near them.