A 2013 study by the Pew Research Center found that 91% of all adults have smart phones and a significant proportion of people over the age of 25 own one of these devices. The statistics reflect how much technology has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. Technology in the field of medicine has largely been focused on enhancing diagnostic and treatment options, but there has been a slow emergence of applications that aim to improve the patient/physician relationship, as well as patient outcomes. Records and test results can be shared in seconds while maintaining privacy and confidentiality, and patients can have remote consultations with their general physicians and specialists.
Electronic Medical Records
You may remember signing HIPAA forms at your medical visits. Much of this federal law focuses on patient privacy and confidentiality, but the law also includes stipulations for electronic medical records. In addition to meeting the regulations, electronic medical records allow your medical care team to share your medical information quickly and efficiently. Gone are the days of mailing records, x-rays and lab results only to find out that the documents were lost along the way. You also no longer need to provide hard copies to multiple specialists as the records can be sent to several recipients in one step.
Remote consultations are perhaps the most exciting advancement in patient-centered technology applications. The demands of work and family often make attending a medical appointment low on the list of priorities. With remote consultations, you can meet with your entire care team, even if they are from different practices. The consultations can be conducted over the phone, but patients benefit more from the face-to-face experience of shared meeting applications, such as the GoToMeeting application that we use for prostate ablation consultations. Everyone involved in your care attends the internet-based meeting, so you can hear the input from each specialist, all while ensuring your confidentiality. This improves care coordination and helps you better understand your treatment plan.