As doctors, healthcare professionals, and consultants, we’re beginning to realise that our patients need health related assistance, guidance, and intervention, on a regular basis, but are not always able to compromise on their other life commitments.
In this time and age, common colds, fevers, and mild to moderate aches and pains hardly ever bring life to a standstill. These and other conditions often need management rather than intense physical care in a hospital setting.
Then there are common lifestyle diseases, such as high cholesterol levels, hypertension, and diabetes, which also call for regular monitoring, guidance, and management.
Till a few years back, patients had to make multiple visits to various doctors’ clinics and hospitals, simply to ensure that their conditions get monitored correctly. Each time someone developed a health concern, they’d have to book an appointment, take time off of work, and visit the doctor’s clinic, where they would have to wait in a long queue before the final consultation happened. Missing doctors’ appointments could mean that prescriptions don’t get revised on time, often posing serious health risks.
Thankfully, with the advent of digital health tools for patients, people can get in touch with medical practitioners, hospitals, and drugstores with a few easy taps on their smart phones, without even stepping out of their homes and offices.
Digital health tools essentially include all those gadgets and apps that allow patients to consult doctors, nutritionists, and even super-specialists over stable internet connections.
Listed below are some digital health tools that are enabling better patient engagement today.
Wearable Gadgets: Wearable gadgets help monitor vitals such as a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, sleep quality and duration, and physical activity. These wearables are becoming increasingly compact and stylish, too, which means patients are more than willing to adopt them and share readings from them with their health care practitioners, on a regular basis.
Digital Weighing Scales: Digital weighing scales show users readings such as body weight, body mass index (BMI), basal metabolic rate (BMR), and fat percentage. This data can then directly be transmitted to healthcare practitioners such as doctors and nutritionists for regular patient monitoring.
Messaging and Media Exchange Apps: This includes mobile apps that allow users to send text messages, images, videos, and audio clips to other users in their contact lists, with ease and efficiency. Such apps are usually free to download and use. Using these apps, patients can engage with doctors by sending queries regarding their health concerns, uploading test reports (blood tests, radiology, lipid profiles, etc.), and even video calling when required. Healthcare practitioners can in turn send prescriptions, written precautions and notes, and diet plans to patients.
Personalised Healthcare Apps: These are apps that are specifically designed for doctors based on their practice’s requirements. Doctors can create individual patient profiles in this app, and provide access to patients. Such an app enables the doctor to build and maintain case files and records digitally in one place. It also helps the patient access all past health records and prescriptions with ease. This also makes it easy for the doctor to transfer a patient’s history to other doctors or specialists for second opinions, advise, or specialised consultations.
These digital health tools are enabling patients to engage with doctors more effectively, at their convenience, for regular follow ups and health management.