Being a patient is not easy. Now more than ever before, patients are needed to play an active role in their health and wellness, which often means they have to commit a lot of time and effort to researching the best treatment for them.
However, the vast majority of patients don’t have the time, energy, or interest in doing all of that research on their own. That’s where healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies come in.
Pharmacies have been the primary source of healthcare information for many years. However, with the emergence of the internet, patients can now access a wealth of information on their smartphones, tablets, and desktops. This has led to an increase in the number of people wrongly self-diagnosed with illnesses, as well as an alarming rise in the number of people falling for scams and fraudulent marketing practices.
To combat this, pharmaceutical companies have started creating applications and websites that allow patients to play an active role in their healthcare. Through these tools, patients can track the symptoms of their disease, research possible treatments, get informed about medication side effects, and monitor their prescription’s effectiveness. Today we’re going to explore six ways that healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies are providing tools for patients to become more engaged with their healthcare.
1. Personalised Medicine
The practice of medicine involves more than just treating the sicknesses of patients, it is also about finding the right treatment for them, which takes into consideration their health status as well as the kind of illness they have. With advances in technology, healthcare providers can now obtain a much greater amount of personal information about a patient than ever before, which enables them to tailor prescription drugs and treatments to an individual’s unique needs and circumstances. (Forbes) As a result, the practice of medicine is becoming more and more personal. (Statista) When physicians take the time to understand a patient’s medical history, personal preferences, and social determinants of health, they can prescribe a medication or treatment that is much more effective and less likely to cause adverse effects. (American Medical Association) Thanks to tools like Nudge.ai, which provides a digital persona based on the individual information collected about you during the clinical trial process, you can have your entire medical history available at your fingertips. Simply enter your symptoms, and the system will give you a list of the most appropriate medications and treatments.
2. Adaptive Design
In the same way that advances in technology have changed the way we communicate, social media, and interact, it can also be used to change how healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies work together to provide the best possible treatment and education to patients. Thanks to tools like adaptive design, which was launched by Google in 2018, healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies can work together to create patient-specific digital experiences that seamlessly integrate pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment options.
The idea behind adaptive design is to create healthcare applications and websites that can adapt to the user’s environment, such as internet connectivity, network availability, and available space on devices. When a healthcare application or website is launched, it starts small in scale and gradually expands to include more content and functionality based on the user’s actions. For example, if a patient visits a website frequently, the website will encourage them to take an online course or join a healthcare community. Or if they have limited internet access, the website might ask them to complete a short survey to prove they’re a real person and to prevent them from experiencing technical errors.
2. AI and ML in Healthcare
Healthcare is a field that is definitely evolving and improving thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Deep learning in particular is having a profound impact on healthcare, thanks to companies like Google creating neural networks that can diagnose diseases with an accuracy that far exceeds the capabilities of human physicians. Although there is undoubtedly a wealth of information hiding in plain sight on the internet regarding healthcare, which can be extremely beneficial to patients, it can also be extremely confusing and overwhelming.
Thanks to AI and ML, healthcare providers can now take a more holistic view of a patient’s medical history, social status, and psychology, which enables them to prescribe a treatment plan that is much more effective and less likely to cause adverse effects.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, consider studying at a medical school that offers a strong science background, and/or applying to a residency program in the field.
3. Mobile Phones in Healthcare
It’s not just about accessing information digitally anymore. With the growing use of mobile phones in healthcare, healthcare providers can also access a wealth of information, including medical reports, prescriptions, and appointment information, all on their phones.
Thanks to companies like Verified Patient, which uses AI and mobile phones to verify a patient’s identity and clinical history before they see a healthcare provider, patients can feel confident that their privacy is being respected, and healthcare providers can feel confident that the right diagnosis is being made.
However, not all information should be accessible via a mobile phone. If a patient is experiencing acute pain, there are other ways for them to provide consent for their medical records to be accessible, including paperwork or an in-person visit. In those cases, a mobile phone might not be the best option, due to the likelihood of information being leaked or accessed by an unauthorised party.
3. Remote Monitoring
In addition to being able to see your medical history and treatment options in detail, through tools like Nudge.ai, healthcare providers can also track the effects of your medications and treatments, and even intervene if necessary. Thanks to remote monitoring, which was introduced by AliveCor in 2018, healthcare providers can now check in on patients remotely and monitor their health as needed.
This service is particularly beneficial for patients who are unable to be closely monitored by a health care professional, such as those who are in hospice care or under a doctor’s care, or for those who are taking part in a clinical trial. With the advancement of remote monitoring, patients don’t have to wait for an in-person visit to have their health checked or to give consent for their medical information to be used.
Thanks to the introduction of electronic prescribing, which enables healthcare professionals to prescribe medications and treatments digitally, there is now the ability for patients to have access to their entire medication history, including the name of the medication and the pharmacy that they were prescribed by, all in one place. This eliminates the risk of medication or treatment errors, since everything can be tracked and verified, and it also allows patients to see the effect of their treatments and to understand any possible side effects, since all of their medical history is at hand.
E-prescribing is accepted as a valid form of prescribing in many jurisdictions globally, including the UK, where it is called electronic prescribing. Thanks to the ability to track and verify prescriptions digitally, patients can feel safe in the knowledge that their rights as a patient are being respected, and healthcare professionals can feel confident that the right treatment is being administered.
5. Cloud-Based Software
If you’re looking for a secure and accessible place to store your medical information while avoiding unnecessary paperwork, you might want to consider using cloud-based software. These types of programs allow you to create and store your medical records in the cloud, which makes them accessible from any device.
This being said, not all cloud-based software is made equal. Those that are built on open source platforms, like OpenMRS or PurpleBricks, offer you the freedom to access and edit your medical records from anywhere. If security is a concern, however, you should look for software that is specifically designed for healthcare providers, such as CliniCloud.
6. Email Alerts
Thanks to the rising use of email alerts, patients can now monitor the status of their prescription delivery, whether it has arrived at its destination, and, if applicable, receive alerts when they’re due for a refill.
For those who need to track the status of their prescription delivery regularly, this can be extremely helpful. If you’re not sure how email alerts work, give it a try. Simply enter your pharmacy’s website or email address into your preferred email service’s inbox, and you’ll start receiving emails when your prescription is ready for pickup.
With the evolution of technology and the growing acceptance of electronic prescribing, mobile phones, remote monitoring, and email alerts, it’s clear that patients are playing an increasingly active role in their healthcare. Thanks to these tools, they can now have access to a wealth of information in an easy-to-understand format, which empowers them to make better decisions about their health and wellness, and to feel more confident that the treatment plan recommended by their physician is the best one for them.