Everyone can relate to being sick. To feel powerless or helpless in our own healthcare is a debilitating feeling. In these moments, we look for a sense of control and transparency about the status of our condition, facts and explanations in a language we can understand, updates on our progress, and the ability to have input into our own care.
Basically, sick patients need accessibility, convenience, and a sense of control.
When an individual falls ill, the most common diagnosis is with an acute condition, such as the flu or a cold. Treatment for these conditions is so routine that doctors often skim over treatment plans, and the patient may leave feeling unsure about the specifics. Patients are turning to the Internet to try and find medically accurate answers, and end up feeling more confused about their condition than they had been when they started.
If patients leave an appointment equipped with tools to help debrief their visit and properly prepare them for treatment, they’re likely to feel more in control, and thus more satisfied.
Chronic conditions, such as a cancer diagnosis, always come with a long-term care plan that involves the patient and their family. While tools like patient portals are available to help distribute information, there is still significant room for improvement. There are many technological tools that can be implemented to assist the patient and family in educating themselves on their diagnosis and subsequent treatment.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital recently asked patients and their families which technological tools would be most useful to aid in their care. Many cited expanding a patient’s portal to include their entire medical record, complete with diagnostic imaging results. Others thought scheduling help, such as a tool to plan medications, would be beneficial. A number of families also suggested a tool “to be alerted to schedule changes [in] real-time prompts.”
Although St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital acknowledged that their patient population is primarily chronic patients, they maintain that the suggestions are likely representative of all healthcare consumers. Time and time again we have heard the patient speak, and repeatedly they have asked for improved accessibility and transparency into their care. Developing technological tools to assist in improving their care is the first step in this absolutely necessary direction.