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Healthcare technologies that help patients with better self-management

Almost 50 percent of Americans suffer from a chronic condition. Even more alarming is the fact that 86 percent of total medical costs are spent on this type of disease. Additionally, chronic diseases are on the rise - by 2020, 157 million Americans are expected to live with a chronic condition - and some will have multiple chronic complaints, taking their care more complex and demanding.

Ongoing and incurable diseases represent a huge burden on the health system. Their management takes a long time, and as a result, GPs are experiencing great workloads. Doctors are encouraged to reduce time with patients, often leaving patients to feel as though they are not receiving proper care.

These tools involve technological health modalities such as mobile clinical decision support, home telemedicine, mobile diabetes management tools, drug adherence tools, and virtual visits. There has also been an increase in software applications that pair with a wearable or unmanageable device that allows patients to actively manage their health. NEHI (Network of Excellence in Health Innovation) has identified several obstacles that limit the adoption of these technologies. They range from limited return on investment (ROI) data to data integration challenges and vendor strength.

One of the 11 tools featured in the NEHI report is Tele-Stroke Care. Tele-stroke, which is part of telemedicine technology, has been assessed as an invaluable tool for hospitals that do not have a specialized stroke center. These hospitals can now use Tele-ICT as a link for consultation. Neurologist specialists can use a video link to talk to small and / or rural hospitals. They can also watch scans and tests through an electronic data sharing link. International studies show that since Tele-stroke is in use, the number of stroke patients receiving TPA therapy (a drug that acts on the clot must be administered as soon as possible) has increased about 10 times.

Electronic communication methods have proven particularly useful for people living in underserved areas and need to travel extensively to meet their healthcare providers. They allowed for better exchange of health information between patients and healthcare professionals, and also between hospitals. Caregivers are also benefiting from e-health techniques. For example, researchers from the Netherlands are currently evaluating how best to support people with mild dementia using digital tools that promote self-management.

Virtual visits allow patients to take control

Virtual visits are another branch of telemedicine that helps meet the needs of patients remotely. Being able to see and speak to a doctor in real-time using technology can speed up the evaluation and treatment process. A patient can explain his symptoms (and for simpler complaints), it is possible to receive a diagnosis or obtain prescriptions from a distance. Virtual visits are implemented in different areas of healthcare. This type of service can guarantee continuity of treatment with conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Weight, blood pressure, and blood glucose measurements can now be transmitted to healthcare providers from wireless devices. For example,virtual visits are now also included in some health insurance plans. Since reimbursement issues have previously been identified as one of the barriers to the wider adoption of virtual health, these developments could help make virtual visits more important in the future.

Virtual visits offer many advantages over traditional medical models based on physical examination. As patients gain better access to healthcare professionals and cheaper deals are offered, their experience is usually improved. Telekinesis may be available 24 hours a day, and patient monitoring and education can be performed continuously. In addition, there is now an e-ICU option and electronic emergency services, which offer patients faster access to specialized services.

In-car telemedicine requires more research and development

Some of the digital and communication technologies that support patient management and self-care are already established and evidence-based, while others need more time to develop fully. One area that has shown some potential, but has not yet been finalized, is in-car telemedicine, promoted as "the car that matters." Ford and Toyota were working on this new technology, which would give people the opportunity to monitor their health during commuting. Car seats that would detect a heart attack stop the car and seek assistance. However, in 2015, Ford, unfortunately, announced that they were abandoning research and, for example, worked on adding some teletype features to their cars. The company is developing brain monitoring technology. The system would include sensors built into the steering wheel that could detect your level of attention and respond appropriately, increasing our safety as we drive.

Health technology for self-management of diseases like diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that can affect any part of daily life. Going to the doctor and taking medications is important, but not sufficient for optimal care. Individuals with diabetes can reduce the short and long-term impacts of the disease by exercising self-management skills. The use of health technology facilitates diabetes management.

Glucometers (glucometers) are small tools for measuring the level of glucose in the blood. Different glucose connects via cable or wirelessly to diabetes management programs hosted on a computer, smartphone, or cloud. In some arrangements, healthcare professionals can view measurements and provide feedback to patients. Non-invasive monitors, which measure glucose without a skin prick, have been used for many years and in many styles, including a GlucoWatch. A patient has a small sensor wire inserted under the skin and uses a wireless mobile reader to show data. Other non-invasive solutions may soon be available.

Look for emerging platforms that connect with devices and apps to view data from multiple self-management activities in a single interface.

If you monitor several parameters relevant to diabetes self-management, you may begin to notice different correlations, for example, between your blood sugar levels, what you dotelemedicine, and what and when you eat. Many experts also believe that the goal is to integrate self-management apps into electronic medical records (EHR). Some insurers are already seeing mHealth(mobile health) as a way to reduce complications and costs and are offering digital diabetes apps and technologies for free or at discounted prices.

Author: Vicki Lezama


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