#DigitalCitizen Series: Health Tech, Coming Soon to a Location Near You.
Health & Wellbeing
Digital Health Wave
Here we are in the digital age. Blah blah blah, you know that already. But while we all sit around with our smart phones, shopping, socialising, working, and living in the digital world; the reality is that we’ve really only started to scratch the surface. And even though technology has seemingly permeated everything in our lives, it is only beginning to touch how we manage health and wellbeing.
Yes, we know it’s fun and trendy to track your activity levels or your heart rate with wearables. But this is just a glimpse into the possibilities afforded by collecting and sharing health data to improve patient care, and to deliver care at greater speed and scale. Movements like the Internet of Everything have been kick-starting the advancement of digital health. However, there’s still a disconnect between technology and the delivery of innovative healthcare. So the question remains, how do health and wellbeing dive in to the deep end of this new digital movement?
Health, Wellbeing, and Rock & Roll
In today’s post, Mark, our digital citizen, is also a rock star and a heart patient.
The alarm sounds at 8 am and it’s time to wake up. But it’s not the alarm clock that’s going off; it’s the notification of an issue by our citizen’s implantable cardioverter-defribillator (ICD); a device implanted in the body and capable of correcting most life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. While Mark is wondering whether to panic, the technology is working behind the scenes, streaming real-time information on the patient’s wellbeing.
First, a notice was sent to the device manufacturer. This then triggered an alert to the health provider and prompted a call to the patient. Within an hour of being awakened by the unnerving sound coming from his own chest, the cause had been identified, shared with the care provider, and a next-day appointment had been scheduled for follow up.
Healthcare professionals normally rely on patients to confess how they’re feeling. However, with the possibilities enabled by digital health, doctors will soon know how their patients are feeling, and possibly even why, before they walk into the examination room. In this case, proactive monitoring and problem solving has allowed our citizen to return to normal life. Our citizen is as active as ever and still rocking on strong.
But what if a specialist is needed? Often large distances separate physicians, specialists, and patients even in a country like the UK. If our citizen had lived in Ontario, Canada, where telemedicine initiatives have helped patients save almost 200 million miles of travel per year, access to a specialist would have been only a few keystrokes away. By providing tools that allow healthcare providers to easily communicate with one another and with their patients, caregivers can use the network to deliver healthcare through video conferencing with patients, share data amongst care groups, and support remote educational events or meetings.
And what about access to more remote areas of the world? There are renowned programs like the UVA Center for Telehealth. As well as serving patients throughout Virginia, it has expanded its programs to the medically underserved in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa, providing basic medical care and as well as specialty services from psychiatry, to pediatric neurology, to genetics.
But why stop there? Technology is becoming more and more accessible. We should be planning for the day when all patients receive, and all professionals provide, the right care, at the right time, in whatever location is most convenient; the move to truly patient-centric care.
Stay tuned for the next Digital Citizen post to discover more information about learning without limits. And be sure to check back each week as we explore new themes and challenges.
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