Health Care Industry Implementing Technology
- Health & Wellness
- Aug. 8, 2012
Does your doctor’s office have you fill out medical forms on an iPad? Does the nurse type your symptoms into an office computer? Have you ever had a video conference with your doctor?
If you haven’t seen these changes at your doctor’s office, they might happen soon. More health care providers are going paperless and moving into the domain of an electronic health record (EHR) system.
Estimates are that 55 percent of all physicians are already on an EHR system. Of those who aren’t on one yet, about half of them have either purchased a system or plan to within the next year.
There is a lot of controversy about EHR systems. Are they secure? Will patients have access to their records? Will they save doctors, and patients, money?
Is a system like this beneficial for someone who may have mesothelioma or is already diagnosed? The simple answer is yes and it’s because of speed. Doctors can document, recall and share information faster than ever and this is crucial for potential mesothelioma patients. It usually takes about six months for someone to receive a mesothelioma diagnosis and many consider this too long of a wait.
Most mesothelioma diagnoses begin with a primary care physician or family doctor. But one doctor doesn’t have all the answers. The study of medicine is just too vast and it’s incredibly valuable to see a specialist who understands a rare cancer like mesothelioma. When your information has been documented in an EHR system, your doctor can easily send your medical history to another doctor to whom you have been referred.
Improving Mesothelioma Treatment with Electronic Health Records
In 2011 there was a Physician Workflow study that looked at how EHR systems can improve patient care. One of the largest benefits observed was accessing a patient’s medical chart remotely (74 percent of physicians found it beneficial within the last 30 days).
For someone who has been waiting for a diagnosis and has undergone several tests and even a biopsy, an electronic medical chart saves one crucial component in every diagnosis: time.
The speed of being able to view medical information between labs and doctors has decreased waiting times. It also takes less time to share medical information from specialists and hospitals. If you seek advice from another expert in another part of the country, or even in a different country, your records are readily available.
The faster you’re diagnosed, the faster you can begin treatment. When dealing with mesothelioma, early treatment is key.
What is the Future of Patient Care?
A new age of telehealth has begun to usher its way into providing health-related services to patients. The EHR system is a small cog for health care professionals that use telehealth to communicate with other doctors and their patients.
Recently the company that created the popular floor cleaning Roomba invested in the RP-VITA Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant (RP-VITA). It looks like an information kiosk planted on top of a Roomba. Instead of cleaning up the floor it is equipped with a monitor and camera so you can video conference with your doctor remotely.
All these technological features are not without a few setbacks:
- There is always the possibility of technical and electronic glitches
- Talking to a doctor through a robot with a monitor can feel impersonal
- Doctors aren’t hands on with patients, limiting the number of non-verbal cues
- Patients facing life altering situations are looking at a screen
A device like the RP-VITA is not appropriate for revealing a life changing diagnosis like mesothelioma. Having a doctor present is much more acceptable.
Telehealth is better for acute medical decisions than large, impactful ones. It helps during checkups and other visits that don’t require a hospital visit. EHR systems also give patients convenience and less wait time, something that many health care facilities struggle with. It seems we will soon see more automated systems in our medical institutions.
Ben Leer is an outreach coordinator with The Mesothelioma Center. He works toward increasing education and awareness of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Part of Ben's job is to reach out and engage with patients, caregivers and family members on our online communities.