Posted June 16, 2016 by admin in articles

The Benefits of Explaining Technical Healthcare to Patients

Benefits of Explaining Technical Healthcare
Benefits of Explaining Technical Healthcare

Exclusive article by Dennis Hung at


Technological advances in healthcare have created incredible new opportunities for patient empowerment. Many patients, through working with physicians and other provider networks utilizing these advances, can now access their own medical records. They can use mobile apps to track their medication use, record their symptoms, and access treatments. But advances in “technical healthcare” will stay out of reach of patients whose physicians don’t take steps to educate them on these options.


Physicians and other providers can’t be faulted for assuming that patients will be overwhelmed by these options. And it is understandable that a doctor, especially one in private practice, may think they don’t have the time to implement and explain these advances. But these assumptions may be false. A study in the British Medical Journal evaluated data on 19,000 patients and 105 physicians who were using Open Notes, a medical records portal. 99% of patients opted to keep access to their notes after one year, and no physicians opted to discontinue use, despite their initial misgivings about additional work. And, most surprising of all, a quite diverse spectrum of patients benefited from accessing their own medical records, even elderly patients and those with lower levels of education. The study illustrates the error of assuming that technical healthcare may frighten patients, or have a negative impact on physicians’ time. To the contrary, these advances may empower both patients and physicians.


Here are just a few benefits that patients may obtain when their physicians educate them about advances in technical healthcare.


A Greater Understanding of their Condition

Chronic conditions burden patients with a great deal of information- about their symptoms, medication and therapy regimens to keep these symptoms in check; and the side effects of treatments, as well as the need to adjust them based on changes in symptom profiles. Access to medical records, the use of mobile apps to track symptoms and treatments, and other advances in technical healthcare may give patients a greater understanding of their condition. These tools can easily be adapted based on patients’ health literacy, and the ability to share medical records and physician notes across providers may help patients receive a more consistent message about their condition.


More Investment in their Own Care


As the saying goes, “knowledge is power”. Well-educated patients will be more invested in their care. Especially in the case of chronic conditions, it is all too easy for a patient to become overwhelmed by the complexity of treatment, and stop adhering to medication use and treatments. Tools like mobile symptom tracking apps, social media communities for patients, and the “gamification” of treatment may create a greater sense of patient investment in their own care. These advances help patients feel like they can take an active role in their own treatment, instead of passively receiving care from physicians.


A Sense of Empowerment When Working with Physicians


Physicians can take simple steps to help patients be active partners in their own care. In the case of medical records, advances like a vendor neutral archive (VNA) can make a big difference. A VNA allows cross-platform, cross-physician sharing of medical records and images, removing the burden of tying the data to a single vendor. Depending on physician preferences, VNAs may enable patient access. As a simple illustration, a VNA might be used to store brain imaging records for a cancer patient. The records could be accessed by a neurologist or oncologist, and none of these physicians need worry about the technical details of sharing information across vendors. This patient will be able to receive a consistent message about their own care and could even participate by gaining access to their own brain images.


Advances in data-sharing platforms and mobile apps have the potential to greatly empower patients and dispel some of the mystery which makes chronic conditions, and acute health crises, so fearful. Physicians can only benefit from educating themselves and their patients about these options.

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