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Modernizing care one step at a time

Most recently I have started to notice a small yet crucial update to the healthcare workplace; the introduction of medical patient portal apps! The day-to-day activities that happen at a clinic can be stressful and with the help of these apps, it has been faster and easier to provide patients with the care they need. From the comfort of their homes or in the middle of the day, patients can easily open these apps to connect with a care provider!

Patient portal apps are convenient 24-7 hour apps that provide patients with access to their medical history, the ability to set up an appointment with their care providers and help keep track of any current prescriptions. These one-stop apps can even connect patients to medical health information from other care locations when provided with access to do so. As long as patients have access to a secure wifi network, their health history is at the tip of their hands!

Apps like these have been providing patients with the opportunity to communicate with their providers as quickly as possible. What would possibly take days or even months to achieve has been made possible through the use of technology. They are each programmed to represent that specific clinic or hospital organization! These apps have become even more popular due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. With the high risk of contracting covid-19, the healthcare field had to find a way to overcome this barrier! Thanks to technology, we were able to continue to connect through telehealth visits!

These apps fall under the category of telehealth. One thing you have to keep in mind is that the terms “Telemedicine” and “Telehealth” have been used quite often that they might be considered to be the same. The truth is that telemedicine is a general term used to describe providing medical care at a distance by using telecommunications technology, while telehealth involves the electronic and telecommunications technologies used to provide care and services remotely. Telehealth is a form of healthcare in which providers use technology in order to meet with patients. They could either call them through the phone or connect via a zoom call on a computer, tablet, or phone. It allows long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, advice, reminders, education, intervention, monitoring, and remote admissions. Telehealth can lower the costs of doctor visits while increasing healthcare access.

In my personal opinion, I believe it makes it easier for everyone working at the clinics as well! At the clinic I work, we use a patient portal app where they can update their own information without the whole hassle of having to fill out multiple papers. This app also allows us to send communications about any recent lab results we may have gotten from their last visit. As a patient, I also love it because it allows me to electronically check in at my appointments! I usually don't have to wait as long to be attended since they already have access to all the basic information they need from me beforehand. I know I begin to get frustrated when the wait time at the clinic begins to get longer. I’ve also noticed that because of these waits, many patients feel overwhelmed and decide to leave before being seen.

If we are able to create apps like these, it makes me wonder what other apps we can create so patients have an easier form to communicate their needs and receive the necessary care they need. Maybe we can create an app that helps the patient understand what is happening with their body! This app could have different doctors that are able to take patients 24/7 and provide telehealth appointments. Almost like a customer service line but focused on healthcare! Each patient could do it from the comfort of their own phone.

IU health is a great example of this! They offer virtual visits that meet their patients' needs! These include regular, follow-up, pre and post-operation, triage visits, pre-visit information sessions, medication review, and more. They are available 24-7 just by downloading their app and creating an account!

If more locations had access to this type of care, we could find the necessary care providers needed. Could you imagine the possibilities? With this form of telehealth, I believe we could overcome one of the greatest barriers between a care provider and their patient; communication. How many times have you had to cancel your appointment because of scheduling conflicts? Are no appointments available? Having to work all day at your job? Exactly. These appointments are already hard enough to schedule as it is! Apps like an easier way for you to communicate your needs and any changes in your schedule if more healthcare locations had this form of healthcare!