Technology is radically transforming public health and healthcare delivery. And public health experts are leveraging technology to improve quality of care for patients. Here are four ways technology is transforming public health as we know it.
Online Medical Consultations
Online medical consultations are becoming commonplace. Telehealth allows patients to consult with a doctor, nurse practitioner or mental health counselor through a screen. This reduces costs and obligations for all parties involved. Patients don’t have to travel to see the healthcare provider for the consultation, something particularly valuable for the homebound and those who live far from healthcare facilities. It makes it possible for patients to log in and seek medical advice from any practitioner online, allowing them to have access to healthcare advice at almost any time. For healthcare providers, they can reduce overhead expenses.
Healthcare? There’s an App for That
Many people jokingly say that if you can think of an application, there is an app for it. And there truly are apps for a number of public health applications. You can find publicly available apps for tracking fertility or blood sugar, reminders to take medication or track activity levels and sleep.
Reminder apps for parents tell them when to take children in for their vaccinations or well check visits ensures that children receive the preventative care that maximizes their odds of a healthy life. In other cases, parents are notified when a child’s blood sugar is out of range or another issue arises. These same apps connect to the child’s healthcare records so that they are available when parents visit another healthcare provider.
Apps run alongside digital assessments and checklists that help patients get properly diagnosed or refer to them to the appropriate lab for tests to determine their actual condition.
Data for Public Health Purposes
Social media monitoring is starting to be used to track the appearance, spread, and severity of various conditions. For example, tracking mentions of the flu and ratings of its severity give public health experts an idea of where it is hitting the hardest and where it is starting to ebb. Social media itself allows public health experts to disseminate correct information far and wide at relatively little expense.
Online health education resources are increasingly used by both patients and medical practitioners. For example, many healthcare networks, as well as insurers, are referring patients with long-term health conditions to online resources. The end result is an educated, empowered patient with lower odds of needing to visit the doctor in the future because the condition is out of control.
Online classes are also becoming common for healthcare practitioners themselves. This is true whether you’re completing continuing education courses to maintain your certifications or earning an entire master’s degree. To learn more about Arizona University’s online master of public health degree program, click here.
All these technology advances are fast transforming the way we view public health. And they will continue to change public health for the better for years to come.