Throughout history, there has always been a sort of reverent mysticism surrounding healthcare providers. Oftentimes, the patient would turn to their doctor – a person who, curiously enough, might not have had extensive healthcare knowledge working with live individuals – with their chief complaint in tow. Then, following their appointment and the revelation of their concerns, they would blindly follow the recommendations offered by the medical professional, without questioning it.
These days, however, the dynamic between the patient and the doctor has largely shifted. Building a telemedicine software allows for both remarkably enhanced communication and considerably superior treatment outcomes, especially when compared to just a mere decade or so ago. While there are a vast myriad of reasons that can be attributed to this change, it’s fair to attest that technology has been a driving catalyst for these emerging developments.
Gone are the days when patients lacked the resources to cross-reference any healthcare advice, and with doctors focusing on bolstering their own training and understanding through continued education (CE) coursework, we’re starting to see a marked improvement in this interaction. And no doubt, as this change continues to proliferate and spread across a wide range of healthcare fields, we can hope to see satisfactory outcomes across the board.
A Focus On Communication
In many ways, the methods that different social groups employ to interact among one another can be traced back to the application of their own unique languages. The healthcare sector is no different. While most doctors in the Western world do speak English with proficiency – albeit with a hearty dose of Latin sprinkled throughout it – it can still come out as a foreign, jumbled mess when the words meet the patient’s ear.
Even when the healthcare provider themself is sincerely trying to speak slowly and enunciate in the exam room, it’s far too easy for the message to become convoluted in their discourse. Technology, however, is striving to change this gap in interpersonal linguistics. For instance, if a diagnosis is uploaded to a patient’s portal, they can peruse it at their own leisure and even research it extensively during their downtime.
Electronic health records (EHR) are also making it easier for patients to follow up on any prescribed treatment options, affording them the ability to break down acronyms and lofty language into layperson’s speech. From there, the patient is then able to touch base with their provider and receive clarification on any questions that may have arisen following their appointment, and the doctor can just as easily respond to them.
Encouraging Visible Transparency
One of the more misunderstood aspects of healthcare is the sizable role that insurance companies play in the care and treatment of patients. Sadly, healthcare providers are often the ones who are being lambasted by patients (and the general public) when care and medication come with exorbitant fees. What many people fail to realize is that insurance companies dictate the prices of treatment and prescriptions, and doctors don’t get much say in these policies.
Technology, though, is now making it possible for doctors to take charge of how they treat their patients and bypass these exhaustive demands from insurers. This can be highly advantageous for everyone involved – except, of course, the insurance companies. For example, telemedicine makes it possible for doctors to move away from the traditional clinical setting and offer treatment on a direct-pay model. This means that there’s less emphasis on cost and more on the actual care itself.
Since the healthcare provider is no longer deemed as being “out of network,” delays in treatment can be curtailed. Referrals and pre-approvals can be finalized in real-time, and patients can know upfront what the final cost of care will be for them. Without nasty sticker shock and surprise bills sneaking into their mailbox, the relationship between the doctor and the patient will be more comfortable and relaxed. And from this, healthcare itself will also be much better.
More Emphasis On Accessibility
Just like transparency is now being improved via healthcare technology, so is accessibility. One of the many benefits of telemedicine isn’t so much the ability for a patient to review their records, but rather, actually have an avenue to seek out treatment in the first place. Long waits for appointments, fighting with insurance to find an in-network doctor, and spending a minimal amount of time with the provider are all issues that are far too familiar to both patients and medical professionals.
Technology aims to change this. Via telemedicine, for instance, doctors are no longer constrained by the typical medical hours expected of them. They can start to see patients on weekends or evenings, broadening the overall scope of their care. Patients who work the standard nine-to-five job can see their doctor from the comfort of their own couch, after winding down for the day upon arriving home in the evening.
The same can be said for rural patients, too, who might be otherwise inconvenienced by a trek into town for an appointment. Doctors can prescribe medication, order lab work, and treat the patient remotely. If a patient does find they need to venture into the city, they can pre-schedule their Quest lab appointment ahead of time so they can do it on the same day they might have other errands. Then they can review the results on their web portal, or even through a separate telehealth appointment.
Empowerment Through Stronger Relationships
No doubt, transforming the caliber of care rests on the shoulders of the healthcare provider and not the patient. While it’s ultimately an essential dynamic that is borne out of mutual trust and respect, the onus does lie upon the doctor to forge this connection. Nonetheless, it’s vital that the lines of communication remain open between all parties. This discourse can pave the way to advancements across the board, from diagnoses to the treatment itself.
The primary takeaway should be an emphasis on progress. We’ve made significant strides just in the past few years, and remaining optimistic would not be a misguided aspiration. Through the integration of these technological resources, as well as a clearer communication between all involved parties, we can finally start to see a dramatically better relationship evolve – one that will only continue to strengthen both now and in the years to come.