Healthcare Technology Features, Using Applications & Social Media

By Lyndsey Kleven

Accessing information on healthcare is available in many forms, especially with mobile technology becoming an increasingly popular way of gaining health information. According to the Connect Ohio Residential Technology Assessment, 80% of adults own a cellular phone. Of those who own a phone, 55% are capable of accessing the Internet through their phone. With an increasing number of people turning to mobile technology, applications for cell phones and tablets are becoming quite popular for obtaining health information.

The personalized features that apps can provide, such as logging diet and exercise routines, helps to provide constant feedback of personal information and can be an incentive to nudge people in the direction of healthier habits, according to bits blog from The New York Times. Digital tools available today are becoming more affordable and useful, creating self-awareness for many people to take action.

There is a large amount of apps pertaining to healthcare available for use, many of which are free. One example is a free cancer coach app for breast and colon cancers. The app is designed to help people who are newly diagnosed with breast or colon cancer to better access and manage important information for a personalized treatment plan.

AT&T is also jumping on board with the mobile technology trend and teaming up with Centene, the largest Medicaid provider in Ohio. The partnership will offer a limited group of high-risk diabetes patients ‘DiabetesManager’ through their mobile device, offering real-time advice based on the individual’s data. Patients can use the ‘DiabetesManager’ to track food consumption and blood sugar levels and this also allows for nurse case managers to be able to monitor the patients virtually.

One online field that medical professionals have been slower to join is the social-media domain. According to a recent article from The Columbus Dispatch regarding social media and medical pros, many healthcare providers are reluctant due to concerns over patient privacy. But experts say there are ways to ensure confidentiality while using social online formats.

In Ohio, the Cleveland Clinic and Nationwide Children’s Hospital have both started using social media. The hospitals use Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, podcasts, and blogs to educate people on medical treatments and support groups. The Dispatch cited the benefits of using social media to include gaining new patients, monetary donations, increased attendance at educational courses, and finding research participants. Many of their patients are using these forms of social media and think hospitals that use social media are more ‘cutting edge’.

The use of social online tools can be a great advantage to the physicians who use it. It is a way for them to connect with patients and provide credible health information. The article mentions that some healthcare providers have embraced social media as a way not only to educate people, but also to market themselves and reach prospective patients. Using these sites does not mean doctors are able to give diagnosis online, and any true health concerns should be directed to the physician’s office.

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