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mHealth

Thanks to the rise of telemedicine, medical professionals are more able than ever to meet with patients, even when those patients are unable to leave home. This revolutionary practice has been especially effective when specialists are needed, including when patients present with less common conditions.

There has been success with telemedicine in the United Kingdom as a way to manage lung cancer treatment. With complicated diseases like cancer, patients need a myriad of doctors to fight alongside them. Cases need to be reviewed by a lung cancer multidisciplinary team (MDT) and a thoracic surgeon, but a problem arises when there is a shortage of thoracic surgeons, as is the case in the UK. The solution is telemedicine.

While the computer revolution of decades past seemed to favor only younger generations, the technology advances of this decade have developed on a completely different trajectory. Our gadgets and computers aren’t just more helpful; they’re becoming much easier to use, introducing users of all ages. A recent study shows that almost 70 percent of seniors use the internet and 80 percent own a cell phone—double the number of just a few years ago. The increasing rate of adoption means older generations are recognizing the value and convenience of these devices.

For seniors who are living out their golden years in their own homes and caring for themselves, today’s technology is more than just convenient—it can be a huge boost to both their quality of life and their safety. Here are a few of the best modern tools to consider.

The way we view healthcare is changing—patients are starting to expect more convenient options and have access to more information about their health. New technology has helped telehealth to become a reality for many patients without easy access to healthcare facilities. It has helped healthcare facilities fill gaps in specialty care via telemedicine, and has helped all patients play a larger role in their own care. However, there are still obstacles ahead of widespread telemedicine adoption that will need to be addressed in coming years. Both telemedicine and analytics are major areas of interest for healthcare IT investors, reaching $197 million (analytics) and $171 million (telehealth) in 2016. These two areas go hand in hand, as big data analytics are helping to advance telemedicine and empower both physicians and patients. Here are five ways big data is playing a role in telehealth.

Empowering clients to advocate for their own needs is a big part of what we clinicians do—whether in a more traditional therapeutic setting or in emerging telehealth contexts. And every client is different. For clients in recovery from substance abuse, for example, the individualized treatment needs are diverse. That makes it even more imperative that clients be empowered to advocate for their health.

But how do you achieve this in a telehealth setting? Below are some insights from my work with clients with substance use disorders (SUDs) and their families.

Adults with congenital heart disease have one thing in common:  loss to follow up.   Across the world, children born with congenital heart diagnoses often stop engaging with the medical system when they graduate from high school.  A lack of understanding of the need for lifelong care, no longer having parents insist on appointments, a fear of learning that something new is wrong, and just the business of life: education, work, family are all touted as potential drivers of this precipitous drop-off in cardiac care (https://professional.heart.org/professional/ScienceNews/UCM_464716_Children-with-Congenital-Heart-Disease-Are-Not-Getting-the-Follow-Up-They-Need.jsp).

It is challenging to combat these factors successfully.  However, like all consumers, there are mechanisms to re-engage adults with congenital heart disease in cardiac care: convenience and connection.  Once I recognized that, the answer was right in front of me:  Telemedicine is how I started to bring them back.

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