Case Management

Technology may boost patient communication and improve care

Case Management Insider, January 27, 2015

Can technology help you communicate more effectively with patients? It has great potential to help, according to the Commonwealth Fund’s report “A Vision for Using Digital Health Technologies to Empower Consumers and Transform the U.S. Health Care System.” But healthcare practitioners aren’t yet using technology to its full advantage.

“The healthcare industry now has the opportunity to catch up, using tools ranging from smartphones and tablet computers to remote sensors and monitoring devices to deliver care, information, and support to patients where and when they need it,” the report states. “These technologies also can play a key role in closing communication gaps between providers and patients and in forging new relationships among providers and their peers.”
 
But with technology also comes some cautions. In a Commonwealth Fund-sponsored Twitter chat on the topic of digital health, participants raised issues related to everything from privacy to the fact that a digital interaction can never replace a face-to-face exchange.
 
Organizations also weighed in with some success stories, talking about how they already use technology to improve patient care, including the My Passport program at Boston Children’s Hospital. The program was designed to help smooth the inpatient experience by giving clinicians the tools they need to get the most up-to-date patient information and communicate with one another more effectively.
 
Boston Children’s Hospital isn’t alone. According to the report, other organizations are also already putting technology to work in the following ways:
  • Using cloud-based platforms to link providers, improving communication
  • Using smartphones and remote monitoring devices to keep tabs on patients’ health
  • Using technology to mine data and look for red flags, signs that a patient may need additional support from case management or other healthcare professionals.
For example, clinicians and others at the Stanford University Clinical Excellence Research Center used data analysis to find a way to identify patients with early stage chronic kidney disease, because they know that identifying and treating these patients early can greatly improve the health of these patients and reduce treatment costs.
 
But one Twitter chat participant noted that it’s enough to use technology, you’ve got to use the right technology for the application. Finding the right ways to use technology to provide patient support and improve communication will be up to individual organizations to determine what works best for them and their patients. One thing is clear, technology will continue to grow and evolve, and with it new opportunities to incorporate it into medicine and patient care.

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