By Lyndsey Kleven
The goal of many public health advocates and the medical community is to have access to timely, reliable information about healthcare, and electronic healthcare (e-health) is making access possible. This goal is specifically important to seniors, who often have a greater number of health conditions and use healthcare services and prescriptions drugs at a more frequent rate than younger adults.
Connect Ohio’s Residential Technology Assessment found that 37% of people 65 or older have home broadband service, and 53% of seniors accessing the Internet use it to search for medical information or to communicate with healthcare professionals. For seniors, learning to use the Internet for healthcare could have a significant impact and play a huge role in helping them to live independently, while being able to stay connected.
The impact the Internet could have on seniors is substantial, yet the online behavior of seniors has not been studied as closely as other age groups, as seen in a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Seniors are the most avid consumers of health information and many policymakers are hopeful that this demographic will, over time, become more actively engaged in using Internet sites to assess health information.
Not only will advancing technology in the healthcare field be beneficial to those who access healthcare the most, it is currently having a significant impact on those who work in the medical field. The advancements seen by medical professionals will continue to progress. An article posted by Nortel.com predicts the 5 key technology benefits expected to impact healthcare over the next years are:
- Up-to-date electronic clinical records will allow staff to check a new prescription against a patient’s existing drugs and allergies to reduce chances of error.
- An intelligent patient and equipment tracking and location system will notify staff of patient needs and required next stage of care, e.g., a patient is on their way to a recovery room. Equipment tracking will allow apparatuses to be found quickly for use, maintenance, and tracked for loss or theft.
- Context-based communications will allow staff to see a patient’s records and use real-time communication and collaboration tools such as instant messaging, click-to-call, or file sharing with a “buddy list” of the patient’s assigned nurses, doctors, residents, and their present status giving each staff member’s availability.
- City hospitals will be networked so that all hospital and patient data is available and stored securely in multiple sites, reducing risk that a natural disaster will wipe out the complete medical record of anyone who lives in the city.
- Community health will be interconnected with hospitals and other healthcare sites such as clinics, doctor offices, and home care services to help provide quality patient care outside the bricks and mortar of a hospital. This will allow hospitals to decrease costs by managing resources more effectively.
Connect Ohio is helping seniors get connected through the Every Citizen Online program, which provides free basic computer training to adults all across Ohio. Any Ohio adult is eligible for the 6-hour training program which is being offered at more than 250 locations.
Register for Every Citizen Online classes by calling 1-800-NOW-I-CAN (669-4226)
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