As an educated and informed chronic patient, I have found the use of technology in healthcare a necessity. I remember back before there were pagers, computers, cell phones, smart devices. Back then I didn’t know that I was going to be a chronic patient. I didn’t know how much being able to access my medical records or speaking with a provider on my care team would mean to me. Now I know that I need providers who are also up on technology and the advances that are occurring on an exponential level up of health care.
As I have shared in past blog articles, my providers all are interactive with each other and my care is better and more accurate for it. I know that I am one of a few patients who receives this level of care from my team. I understand that there are rules and that I am protected with my health records through HIPAA. I also get that being able to text my medial provider opens me up to exposure of my medical conditions to hackers and others. I see the benefit in having the choice to access my records through portals even with the risks. I would also like the portals to be able to speak to each other in computer terms so that I have only one universal health record. I don’t believe that this will ever happen though. Therefore, communication between providers and being able to access all of the records in the system is more important than ever. I used to order copies of all of my records, I am working on my 9th 3-inch binder of records! The difference is now I just print the provider summary instead of the whole record for easy access.
Another tech option that I have really been happy with is the use of texts from my providers, as well as my pharmacy. Each month, I get an email from the pharmacy reminding me it is time to order my next month’s prescriptions. I can respond with "refill" and they do the work for me. I have been given the option to have my medications mailed to me but I said no. I like to have the connection to my pharmacist in order to maintain a relationship with her. By doing so, when I need to ask questions about something, she knows all about me and my case. In between those times, we communicate by text and it works out great for me.
With my main providers, I have their cell phones and am able to send questions as I need between appointments. I have been able to avoid the drive and appointment time and get the answers I need or share information from others providers through texting and through the patient portals. This also saves my husband/caregiver time and allows us to live more life on our own.
I also love diagnostic technology for my daily healthcare. I use health apps through my phone that allow me to share the data gathered between appointments with my providers. I also use VR technology to help with stress and mindfulness exercises. And for acute challenges I have faced, I like the use of gastrointestinal cameras and implants.
I have heard from some providers that think changing over to texting systems and online portals will take too much time. To them I say, it does take a little time to switch over but on average it gives you more quality time with your patients and you will be able to help us to a greater degree with less physical time taken out of your day. Take it from a chronic patient, it is worth the time to get your systems set up and the more technological advances you can include the better it will be for you and your patients.
Barby Ingle lives with reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), migralepsy and endometriosis. Barby is a chronic pain educator, patient advocate, and president of the International Pain Foundation. She is also a motivational speaker and best-selling author on pain topics. More information about Barby can be found at her website.
To learn more about the future of texting, check out our free guide, "What's Next with Text."