Throughout history, there has always been a kind of reverent mystique surrounding health care providers. Oftentimes, the patient turned to their physician — a person who, curiously, may not have had extensive health care knowledge to work with living individuals — with their main complaint in tow. After their appointment and the disclosure of their concerns, they blindly followed the recommendations of the medical professional, without questioning them.
Today, however, the dynamics between patient and doctor have largely shifted. This, in turn, provides both remarkably improved communication and significantly superior treatment outcomes, especially when compared to just a decade or so ago. While there are a myriad of reasons that can be attributed to this change, it is reasonable to affirm that technology has been a driving catalyst for these emerging developments.
Gone are the days when patients did not have the resources to compare every medical advice, and with physicians focusing on strengthening their own training and understanding through continuing education (CE) courses, we are beginning a marked improvement in to see this interaction. And as this change continues to spread, spreading across a wide range of healthcare areas, we can no doubt hope for satisfactory results across the board.
A focus on communication
In many ways, the methods different social groups use to interact with each other can be traced to the application of their own unique languages. The healthcare sector is no different. While most doctors in the western world do speak English – albeit with a heavy dose of Latin sprinkled on top – it can still come out as a strange, tousled mess when the words meet the patient’s ear.
Even when the healthcare professional himself is sincerely trying to speak and pronounce slowly in the examination room, it is far too easy to complicate the message in their discourse. However, technology is striving to change this divide in interpersonal linguistics. For example, if a diagnosis is uploaded to a patient’s portal, they can view it at their leisure and even examine it extensively during their downtime.
Electronic medical records (EPD) also make it easier for patients to follow any prescribed treatment options, allowing them to break down acronyms and lofty language in a layperson’s speech. From there, the patient can contact their healthcare provider and get clarification about any questions that have arisen after their appointment, and the doctor can respond to them just as easily.
Encouraging Visible Transparency
One of the more misunderstood aspects of healthcare is the large role that insurance companies play in the care and treatment of patients. Unfortunately, health care providers are often the ones criticized by patients (and the general public) when care and medication incur exorbitant costs. What many people don’t realize is that insurance companies dictate the prices of treatments and prescriptions, and doctors don’t have much to say about these policies.
However, technology now makes it possible for doctors to take charge of how they treat their patients and get around these exhausting demands from insurers. This can be very beneficial for everyone involved, except of course for the insurance companies. Telemedicine, for example, makes it possible for physicians to move away from the traditional clinical setting and offer treatment based on a direct-pay model. This means that there is less emphasis on costs and more on the actual care itself.
Because the healthcare provider is no longer considered “out of network”, delays in treatment can be limited. Referrals and pre-approvals can be completed in real time and patients can know in advance what the final healthcare costs will be for them. Without annoying sticker shock and surprise bills sneaking into their mailbox, the doctor-patient relationship will be more comfortable and relaxed. And that makes the care itself much better.
More emphasis on accessibility
Just as transparency is now enhanced through healthcare technologyas well as accessibility. One of the many benefits of telemedicine is not so much the ability for a patient to view their records, but rather the ability to seek treatment in the first place. Waiting long for appointments, fighting with insurance to find a doctor in the network, and spending a minimal amount of time with the provider are all issues that are far too familiar to patients and medical professionals alike.
Technology wants to change this. For example, through telemedicine, doctors are no longer limited by the typical medical hours expected of them. They may start seeing patients on weekends or evenings, broadening the overall scope of their care. Patients who work the standard nine-to-five job can see their doctor from the comfort of their own couch, after returning home at night to sleep in for the day.
The same can be said for rural patients, who might otherwise be inconvenienced by trekking into the city for an appointment. Doctors can prescribe drugs, order lab work and treat the patient remotely. If a patient feels they should go into town, they can schedule their appointment in advance Quest lab appointment ahead of time so they can do it the same day if they might have other errands. They can then view the results on their web portal, or even through a separate telehealth appointment.
Empowerment through stronger relationships
Undoubtedly, transforming the level of care rests on the shoulders of the caregiver, not the patient. Although ultimately it is an essential dynamic that comes from mutual trust and respect, it is up to the doctor to: forge this connection† Nevertheless, it is essential that the lines of communication between all parties remain open. This discourse could pave the way for progress across the board, from diagnoses to the treatment itself.
The main takeaway has to be the emphasis on progress. We have made significant progress in recent years and staying optimistic would be a good aim. Through the integration of these technological assets, as well as clearer communication between all parties involved, we can finally see a dramatically better relationship evolve – one that will only continue to strengthen both now and in the years to come.