(BPT) – In recent years, we have seen tremendous advances in the areas of technology and medicine, along with more overlap between the two fields. Every year, new technology assists in the diagnosis, treatment and care of different medical conditions. As the new year begins, one new technology trend that you can look forward to is telehealth.
Telehealth uses telecommunication technologies like smartphone apps to deliver virtual medical, health care and education services. Some of the telehealth tools that we have already seen include services that enable you to have video consultations with your doctor without leaving your house and apps that remind you when it is time to take your medication. As an increasing number of telehealth tools become available, here are five reasons why they can improve and simplify your health care:
Telehealth saves you time.
Telehealth tools enable you to participate in audio and video calls with health care providers in lieu of an office visit. While some physical evaluations will still have to be conducted in person, many consultations can be held from the comfort of your own home, saving you time and effort.
Telehealth makes it easy to access health care.
For some of us, health care can be physically inaccessible. For example, individuals who have mobility limitations, are bedridden or live in care facilities can find it very challenging to get to the hospital or doctor’s office. Others who live in rural or remote locations may find the nearest health care provider is hours or even days away. In these cases, telehealth applications bring health care professionals to the patient virtually, providing care that that was impossible before.
Telehealth allows your doctor to monitor your health outside of their office.
Some health conditions require continued monitoring and care. There are now telehealth apps that allow health care professionals to keep track of patient progress and status. For example, patients can log their health status, such as their pain levels, in an app that is also visible to health care professionals, who can then initiate intervention as necessary. This way, your health is under professional supervision no matter where you are.
Telehealth makes it fun for you to take care of your health.
Some telehealth apps “gamify” your health care by making traditionally tedious activities more entertaining. As result, patients are motivated to comply with health care regimens and routines. For example, certain apps designed for diabetes patients use games to encourage them to monitor their blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Telehealth lets you contact the health care professional anytime without an appointment.
Sometimes, you may have health problems that, while not emergencies, still require timely professional advice and expertise. Apps are available that allow you to text or call health care professionals for just such situations. For example, the Signia myHearing App allows new hearing aid wearers to reach out to their hearing care professionals when questions arise regarding their new hearing aids or listening experiences. The hearing care professional can immediately offer assistance, or even remotely adjust the hearing aid settings if necessary.
While telehealth tools will never entirely replace the in-person care that health care professionals offer, they can significantly increase medical professionals’ reach, and help them provide better care to more patients.
* Visit our website at http://sci.washington.edu/.
John D. Steeves, PhD: “We live in an age of rapid technological advances and scientific discoveries. From cell transplants as replacement for lost tissue to robotic devices controlled by conscious thought, many developments promise enabling solutions for disabling injuries or disorders such as spinal cord injury (SCI). But what is the status of the science and its realistic translation to help individuals living with SCI? How do we separate fact from fiction, hope from hype, desire from desperation, and near-term from long-term? What is the documented evidence for the myriad of wonders found on the internet? What should you believe and how do you become empowered to make informed decisions about where to put your energies and faith?” In this presentation, Dr. Steeves addresses these questions and provides an overview of the SCI research that has taken us from merely surviving spinal cord injuries—rare before World War II—to thriving with SCI and even the possibility of recovery. He brings over 30 years’ experience as a spinal cord researcher to explain and discuss recent experimental treatments for SCI.
Speaker: John D. Steeves, PhD
John & Penny Ryan BC Leadership Chair, Professor and Founding Director, ICORD (International Collaboration On Repair Discoveries), UBC and Vancouver Coastal Health, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Presented on May 20, 2010 at the University of Washington Medical Center by the Northwest Regional SCI System, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington.
Survive, Subsist, Succeed: Spinal Cord Injury Research and Outcomes
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