It’s Health Technology Month at WEGO Health, and what better way to kickoff our exciting discussion of apps, devices, EHR and much more than by a special #HAChat? Technology is an inextricable aspect of many of our lives, and this tweet chat is just one example of how intertwined our lives have become with technology, and how technology binds us together. In this week’s chat, Health Activists talked apps, what health tech means to them, and how technology has vastly improved healthcare.
Health tech is an all encompassing term. It refers to medical devices such as X-rays, MRI’s, glucose monitors, electronic health records, mobile apps, and much more. Health technology has revolutionized the way healthcare is practiced, as well as given patients the tools to have a more active role in their care. How has health done this, you might ask? The ways are too numerous for this recap, but in general, technological advances have led to earlier diagnosis and new treatment and surgical techniques for more precise outcomes. There are even robots that can perform surgery these days!
The accessibility of certain health technology and devices has had a profound impact on the lives and care of patients across conditions. It’s amazing just how often patients can say, “there’s an app for that!” There are apps that help you track the severity of your symptoms and record notes regarding triggers, track your pain, remind you do take meds (or just reminders to fight brainfog!), and record your visits with your doctor. Use these apps to track your nutrition, to find innovative exercises based on your health needs or limitations, to track your sleep cycles, to reduce stress through meditation and mindful breathing. These trackers help you to recognize patterns in your health overtime, and also help you to be better prepared for your doctor’s appointments. This can be especially helpful for unplanned visits to the doctor or the ER. Using apps that track symptoms and medication means that you’ll have all the information that you need right at the tip of your fingers. This will help you better communicate with staff in the ER, and will also win you respect from your healthcare team. julianna12369: when I have organized notes, on my phone, I look better and more educated to the staff, I get more respect. That helps #HAchat
Finding these apps and then deciding which one to use can be a little overwhelming; this is why it’s good to do your research. Some health activists suggest online resources such as TedMed, BBC Health, or charities and organizations, but others rely on the power of their online community. Facebook and Twitter are some of the greatest resources for health tech and for finding resources that have already been vetted by the consumer.
We’ve heard many Health Activists discuss the fact that there isn’t an app for their condition, but this chat revealed that Health Activists don’t necessarily want an app specific to fibromyalgia/lupus/other chronic conditions. Many chronic conditions have similarities or comorbidities and it doesn’t necessarily make sense to have an app that focuses on one condition rather than integrating a range of conditions. Julianna12369 suggested that the welcome screen for the app could have you select a condition. Suggestions like this, and others regarding usability demonstrate that apps should be made for and by patients. And speaking of integration, apps and data should be able to be accessed on multiple platforms, not just a smartphone. First off, not everyone has a smartphone. Second, who likes typing on an iPhone/Android? Apps that sync to multiple devices are more likely to be used.
Unfortunately for patients, doctors and healthcare practitioners seem to be woefully behind on apps and health tech specifically geared towards patients. Many are just starting to get into communicating with patients via email, and as we’ve discussed, social media is a foreign land to many healthcare practitioners. As Health Activists, you should tell your doctor about different apps that you’re using so that she/he can let other patients know. Like the rest of the online space, there’s a lot of information to sort through, and many healthcare practitioners don’t have the time to be doing this.
Generally, the power of technology to improve healthcare is endless. Patients are being more quickly and more accurately diagnosed, health tech empowers patients to monitor their health in a more detailed way between appointments, has allowed patients to connect with each other all over the world and find the information they need to get the care they need, and finally to drive change in the healthcare field”: kimmieCollas: patient communities drive change, since more informed patients leads to more informed doctors #HAchat
Do you have a favorite health app that you would like to share? WEGO Health will be featuring Health Activists reviews on the Facebook page all month long and want to hear what you think! If you’re interested, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for the review guidelines and we’ll feature you and your post over the course of June. Be sure to join us next week for the Men’s Health Week #HAChat. Tuesdays, 3 PM ET.