Following Emily’s post on The Disconnect between Patient Expectations and Physician Actions, below is a look at how technology is being used by some pediatricians.
Health care professional focused materials are often a key component of a social marketing campaign. From a brochure on cervical cancer to an interactive tear pad on kidney test results, these and other materials provide doctors, physician’s assistants, or nurses talking points during patient interaction and for patients the opportunity to ask questions and receive take-home material to reflect on during their own time as reminder of their office conversation. A recent New York Times article featured how some health care professionals are incorporating technology into their patient care and going beyond traditional paper materials. One particular pediatrician interviewed, uses QR codes and hyperlinks displayed on a whiteboard in the exam room and suggests teen patients snap a picture of and revisit the information on their own time. This allows self-conscious teens to read a physician recommended brochure on alcohol, drugs, or safe sex on their cell phone or computer.
Sure printed materials allow interaction and provide a take away for the patient, a future consideration might be more technology in the waiting and exam rooms.
When I visit a doctor I prepare beforehand with a list of prescriptions I need refills of or questions I want to ask during that small window of doctor-patient face time. An easy way is jotting down these questions or reminders using a common note app on your phone. Even with pre-planning sometimes I wish there was a way to ask a follow-up question without scheduling a second appointment. The same article discussed how some pediatricians are capitalizing on this need to offer follow-up care via text messages with permission from the parents of those underage. Other physicians use social media to suggest websites to their patients or answer general anonymous questions on their practice’s blog. People in general, especially teens, spend their days online and may turn to a less than credible health site if left on their own. If it were possible to reach out for a general answer through a doctor’s blog, wouldn’t you prefer hearing from a more credible source?
Even outside of the office, more practices are using technology to remind patients of their appointments or follow up with lab results. Ready or not, technology is connecting patients with their doctors slowly while mobile apps are providing third-party health tips. Of course there’s mobile apps for calorie tracking, weight loss, determining your sleep cycle, and even programs that will send expectant mothers free weekly text messages like the text4baby program (link to: http://text4baby.org/).
Incorporating technology into the doctor-patient relationship certainly brings privacy concerns and extends the expectation of rapid responses and out of office care, but technology can bridge the gap from an annual physical to a sick visit and the chance for additional education between patients and their first line of health care. Campaigns in the future may include technology we can’t even fathom at the moment, but for now we must always consider the intended audience of a campaign and how they best receive advice. For many, that’s information found through technology when we first Google our symptoms.
Finding a way to connect with hard-to-reach teen patients can develop trust and allow teens to turn to health care professionals for answers and maybe Google can be left as as dependable source for homework questions.
More on the interesting topic of teenagers and their decision making process in a post later this week by Lauren Grella.