The New Age of HealthcareReading Time: 3 minutes
The New Age of Healthcare
Over the past decades American healthcare has been very innovative and has accomplished significant advancements. The days are gone when breast cancer was a near automatic death sentence and when heart attacks would kill thousands each year. These changes have been accomplished with advancement in science, surgical techniques and new medicines.
Despite these tremendous advances there are major areas where American healthcare has not performed as well. These areas include patient access such as telemedicine and patient information portability.
For most patients the task of going to the doctor for a routine visit is still a difficult task. First the appointment needs to be made and time taken off from work or from a daily regular schedule. Once the appointment is made, there is the drive to the doctor’s office, parking and the dreaded time spent in a waiting room. All said and done, a short routine office visit lasting no more than 10-15 minutes will require a time commitment by the patient of many hours.
Perhaps, one of the major positive changes to routine healthcare brought on by the COVID 19 pandemic is the acceleration and adoption of telemedicine. Telemedicine has been available for some time now but has had slow adoption due to the lack of interest by both patients and providers. However, during the pandemic with stay at home rules and the need for most providers to limit patients in their offices, the advantages of telemedicine is becoming clear. Patients can now schedule visits without leaving the relatively safety of their homes and schedule those visits at their convenience.
With telemedicine, patients have now gain the power to see their physicians at their convenience rather than the other way around. No longer does a doctor’s visit require a ½ day time commitment, long drive to the doctor and extended time in a waiting room. Now with telemedicine, patients can now access this healthcare provider when it fits their schedule in a time efficient way as a simple video phone call. This development of telemedicine as a patient tool is a powerful one with long term positive implications.
Patient information portability, that is for patients to be able to travel with their pertinent medical information, is still a major obstacle. It is easier for most patients to change their cell phone carrier than to share or move their information from one doctor to another. Patients still have to spend countless hours filing out the same information for each new doctor visit.
Unfortunately, despite of the wide spread adoption of electronic medical records or EMR it is still a difficult task for patients to have their medical information shared between their doctors and an even more difficult task to share it with a new doctor. Oftentimes, although the patient’s medical information exist on a particular EMR system it is difficult to share the information since the various EMRs do not communicate with each other. Because of this, whenever a patient sees a new physician the patient has to spend time filling out the same medical information forms as they have already done for their other doctors.
If there was portability of patients’ information, patients could simply give their new doctors access to their already filled out and stored medical information. This process would save both the patients’ and their doctors’ time and the repetitive task of re-filling out additional forms and would serve to speed the patient-doctor visit.
We are entering a new age where patients’ convenience will becoming increasingly important. These two developments, telemedicine and medical record portability, will help to make the patient experience better and also help in empowering patients as they take control of how healthcare is delivered to them.