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Monday, August 17, 2015

The Healthcare Revolution – All Hands on Deck



Last week, I talked about the patient being a critical member of the healthcare team and why collaboration and communication between patients and members of the team is needed to ensure safe, quality care that cost-effective. This week, I would like to share how technology is causing a revolution in healthcare. Developments have helped to empower patients and their caregivers to be active participants in their health. Technology is equipping all members of the healthcare team with tools and information that allow them to deliver care that is personal and targeted.

Although I am a good example of a medical success, my success came at a price. As I have mentioned previously, I was treated for a central nervous system brain tumor. The treatment interventions included a proven combination of drugs, which eliminated the tumor and subsequently saved my life. At the same time, I was left with chemo-induced neuropathy and nerve damage that caused bilateral foot drop. This has impacted my ability to walk, drive and resume many of my activities of daily living.  If my drug therapy would have been more targeted to the tumor I might not have suffered these complications. 

Today, through technology, more personalized medicine and targeted therapies are being developed. These will allow drugs to zero in on tumors, prevent damage to other cells and, in turn, avoiding life-changing complications. 

In addition to new therapies, technology is opening the door for more efficient care. It is empowering patients to take a more active role in their own lives, for example, individuals are able to test their blood sugars, monitor  their blood pressure and record their weights. After entering the results into a web portal, the information can be sent to nurses and evaluated based on acuity. Professionals can then respond to abnormal results in a timely manner to correct problems or adjust the plan of care before an untoward event occurs. Nurses are able to educate patients and their families in a timely manner as a result of them being aware of problems. 

Physicians and pharmacists are developing algorithms that can be used to treat patients when lab work is abnormal, or when the patient reports symptoms that can lead to more serious problems. They can also use this information to see how the patient is responding to the plan of care and make adjustments as needed. As this information is received, it allows for better management of the patient’s condition with a more proactive approach.

Because these systems are web-based, they can be utilized in the home, office, or other settings that allow care to be provided where the patient is. These tools also provide a way to decrease emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and delays in high-cost care. Through new technologies, people are able to work through their treatment and ensure that they are on track with the click of a button.

Here are a few examples of the innovative technologies that are changing where healthcare is provided and care is delivered: 

First, I would like to introduce a new platform that was developed by Patientricti. The program helps healthcare professionals improve clinical outcomes, reduce healthcare costs and enable healthcare to be more convenient for the consumer to enhance the patient experience. The goal is to ensure patient engagement is effective, efficient. To view how the system works go to: http://209.105.231.174:8091/Welcome.html. If you would like a live demonstration, please let me know and I can have one of the principles at this company make an appointment with you. There are many new programs coming into use so be on the lookout for them. 

Next I would like to share a TED Talk I recently heard on how technology is changing the way health care is delivered so it is more personal and more efficient. With most of us having exposure to smartphones, tablets and computers, we are learning how to communicate more effectively and efficiently. Take a few minutes to watch this interesting talk to better understand how healthcare is changing as a result of the advances in technology.  http://www.ted.com/talks/eric_dishman_health_care_should_be_a_team_sport

As the industry changes, healthcare professionals need to be aware of these changes and how they are being incorporated into everyday care. We all need to stay current, as the changes will impact how we do our jobs. Information on new advances can be found in a number of ways, via professional organizations, mainstream publications, and blogs developed by professionals who share information on new innovations taking place. These outlets will educate and empower consumers and healthcare professionals to be more involved.  As technology continues to evolve, new skills will be needed in order to keep up- to- date.  Many of us have learned how to use technology on the job and have been able to adapt to advances in technology that have improved care and reduced fragmentation. But we still have a long way to go.  

As a patient, a nurse, a case manager or other member of the team, keep in mind that when you have the opportunity to participate in a project that utilizes new technologies, volunteer to be involved.  

Feel free to share this post with your leadership and learn what they're doing to introduce technology into your organization.  Be a provider of information and ask to participate in the implementation and roll out of new systems and technologies.

Nurses tend to be adept at using technology, as they have clinical expertise as well as an understanding of how the system works and how patients learn. They also have the ability to explain complex information in plain language so all can understand how to operate these new tools and interpret information. They know how to respond to information that might be critical to a patient’s health and the importance of contacting them to make arrangements for changes in treatment before a negative event occurs.  Together with physicians, pharmacists and nurses are working with patients and their caregivers to ensure those with chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, CHF, COPD, pneumonia, and a host of other conditions are proactively managed. 

It is an exciting time in healthcare and, as a team, we will win the revolution by improving the care provided and controlling health care costs so that everyone can have access to care that improves their health and wellness. I look forward to hearing from you if you have benefitted in using new technologies and how they helped or did not help. You can leave a comment below or email me directly at allewellyn5@bellsouth.net

Next week, I will share how setting goals can help a patient improve their care.