Can you imagine a hospital or clinic that doesn’t utilise the internet? It keeps a mountain of documents on every one of its patients piled in towering filing cabinets. Every time a clinician needs to review a patient’s record from a specific period, they have to retrieve it from a stack of paperwork very carefully, lest they jumble up everything if not lose them altogether.
Scary, huh? Thank goodness nobody shuns the internet which is a basic human need, next to food and water. Without it, we’re likely to suffer in disarray. Digital tools like email, mobile phones, social media, computers, monitoring sensors and many others are responsible not only for simplifying our day-to-day tasks, but also for the advent of digital health.
What is Digital Health?
Digital health is a confluence of digital technologies and healthcare services. It provides a wide range of products that help patients manage their conditions and make informed decisions, while cutting their healthcare costs. A good example of this is the Australian government’s My Health Record system, which puts a patient’s health information in one place so that they can access it online from any point in the country.
The Benefits of Having Your Health Records in a Centralised System
You never know when you might suffer a digestive problem, experience a food allergy or get injured. Because of My Health Record, you don’t have to go back to square one every time you visit a health practitioner.
For instance, after years of taking prescription drugs for asthma, you decided to see a naturopathic doctor. Instead of asking you a battery of questions, the naturopath can simply access your records online to for the following information:
- Medical history
- Medicines or vitamins you might be taking
- Emergency contact person and their details
- Advanced care planning
- Personal health notes
- Medicare information
- Preferred end of life treatments
Having access to this data allows your primary healthcare provider, which in this case is the naturopath, to develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs in order to ensure positive health outcomes.
The Future of Digital Health
To diagnose and treat illnesses isn’t the be-all and end-all of digital health. It builds on the strength of technology to develop hardware and software solutions, which include wearable devices, telehealth services and medicines management, to help people be more accountable for their health.
Wearable devices, which are often worn on the wrist, track your energy levels, heart rate, blood pressure and sugar levels, among other things. These motivate a lot of people to stay fit and monitor the results of their efforts in real time.
However, in the event that you get sick, your fitness tracker couldn’t help you but a telehealth service can. Aside from having the ability to keep tabs on your healthcare needs through My Health Record, you will also soon be able to monitor your medications through an e-prescribing and medicines management system, which the government is working to integrate into its digital health initiatives.
The medicines management system keeps a record of all the medications you are taking to prevent problems concerning adverse drug reactions.
With all the technologies being employed in digital health, consumers like yourself are guaranteed of two things — quality care at lower cost and longevity.