Technology is beginning to play a bigger role in doctor/patient relationships, specifically regarding communication. Where a patient once had to make the trip to the doctor’s office, medical practitioners are now looking for new ways to reach out to their patients over smartphones, emails, electronic data collection, and other methods of telecommunication. This is an opportunity to open up medical care to many people who couldn’t receive it before due to distance, not having the ability to travel, age, or infirmity.
While it offers many benefits, this solution does create new problems, primarily a potential lack of supervision. With the doctor physically present during appointments, it’s easier to check up on the patient and make sure they’re doing okay. This becomes more difficult when the patient is distant. Without the focus on the medical matter at hand, a patient could get distracted by life or put off appointments. Perhaps left to their own devices, a patient might make their own decisions based on their own observations, contrary to what a medical professional would advise.
It is up to the doctor in this digitally connected world to use the tools available to them to keep quality care at an all-time high. Thankfully, all that digital communication still allows care providers access to the best tool they have: a friendly bedside manner.
A primary means of collecting patient data actually takes place without active patient participation. This occurs when an automated process takes over the traditional role of doctor checkups. Information about the patient’s progress is collected through a third party – typically a monitor of some kind – and sent to the care provider.
This is already a practice that has been in place for years beginning with sensors like the pacemaker, or diabetics self-monitoring their blood sugar levels. However, those metrics still require a measure of reliance on the patient. If the patient can’t check their blood sugar levels accurately or is unable to appropriately respond to a pacemaker, then those devices won’t provide much insight.
Nowadays, monitoring devices are increasingly adaptive to the use of wifi and Bluetooth technology, allowing them to transmit information directly to the care provider. With information automated over a secure line, it allows the care provider to examine changes in the patient’s condition without necessarily needing to schedule a check-up. It takes the worry out of wondering if the patient has forgotten to take medication, or if there’s any change in the patient’s vitals that needs immediate attention.
Maintaining a Friendly Face Over the Digital Divide
Speaking remotely with patients is becoming commonplace as Canada’s population is slowly learning to communicate more effectively through technology. This reflects positively, as the more patients become knowledgeable in what methods of teleconferencing are available, and how to use them, the more they may be willing to utilize care delivery methods via computers or smartphones. Patients who reside or work in remote communities can also access more medical programs that are provided using hardware designed to transmit communications with limited wifi. Additionally, more medical providers are also taking advantage of governments expanding their communication infrastructures to ensure quality care is delivered in even the most remote communities.
Thanks to teleconferencing media, as well as the latest apps for sharing medical updates between providers and patients, providers are able to keep in touch with patients in their care more than ever before. The key to ensuring that patients also stay on top of their own care is to ensure that the approach is tailored to the patient’s wants. Is the patient more easily reachable through phone calls and video conferencing, or are they more readily available through texting and emails? What would be the best approach to reach them without it becoming frustrating? These are the questions to ask when preparing a remote patient plan.
Keep in mind that, much like self-testing devices for diabetics, patients are eager to take better care of themselves. They simply wish to ensure that the method of doing so isn’t going to make them feel like they are wasting their time. As long as you can provide them with the help they need, let them decide how to participate and volunteer their time. Show them that their care provider is here to listen.
Remote Patient Management Keeps the Doctor Closer to Everyone
As technology advances, people are forced to adjust to the world around them. In order to provide the care they need, medical practitioners have to adjust as well. Utilize the latest medical hardware & programs to keep a patient’s medical regimen up to date and ensure it is being followed closely by the patient. But don’t forget to keep in touch with the patient as well. Whether texting, emailing or reaching out face to face, let them know that their health is a priority no matter where they are. Show them how they can keep pace with their own medical needs, and watch them eagerly take control over their lives again.
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