‘Patients want to be engaged and informed’

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‘Patients want to be engaged and informed’

Tuesday, 27 July 2021 | DR DG Saple

The reality is that patients no longer rely solely on their doctors for information about their health. In such a scenario, it becomes important to ensure that the sources they use are credible, says Prof DR DG Saple

Technology is significantly reshaping the relationship between patients, healthcare practitioners and the health ecosystem. With digitisation making inroads into various facets of healthcare delivery, mobile is playing a crucial role and has become a constant companion of consumers. As patients and healthcare providers are connected, improved treatments have become a possibility due to round-the-clock real-time data available.

By acquiring access to such precise information, healthcare professionals are able to take immediate action when necessary. This prevents patients’ conditions from worsening and thereby improves the quality and longevity of life. The revolutionary changes in healthcare have occurred only because digital tools have enormously empowered patients on every step of their medical journey.  

A significant rise in chronic diseases, changes in demographic and economic trends, and the recent outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated a shift towards a patient-centred healthcare paradigm.  As a result, consumers now demand personalised services which transform healthcare into a consumer-centric tailored approach, discarding the erstwhile one-size-fits-all approach. Rising digital technologies are helping the medical care system move from episodic to longitudinal & collaborative care.

Patients’ needs and expectations from healthcare organisations are continuously changing. They now want to be engaged, informed and connected with all the stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem so that they can become an expert in the course of their treatment.

The reality is that patients no more rely solely on their doctors for information about their own health. In such a scenario, it becomes all the more important to ensure that the sources they use are credible. Technology is helping in a big way here.

AI-based medical apps, meant to educate patients about diseases, drugs, first-aid, treatments, and testing services or clinical trials, are multiplying every day. Medical practitioners must ensure that they recommend apps which contain accurate information, lay down clear objectives, and have user-friendly interface. These are important guidelines basis which medical practitioners can advise which apps their patients should opt for.

3D printing is another major technology making headway in patient education. Visualisation through 3D Printing can help patients acquire a better overview of their physical condition so that accordingly they can make informed choices when it comes to deciding in favour of or against specific treatment paths. For example, nurses responsible for explaining to their patients the medical procedures and critical aftercare will find that 3D printers lend them access to tools that make the entire process smooth and seamless.

Despite the challenges involved, technology has been instrumental in maximising productivity and changing how healthcare services are delivered. Patients today expect innovative and easy-to-use health solutions. There is a rising demand from patients for monitoring devices which do not interrupt their daily activities. Besides, it’s important that patient education materials are highly interactive.

Whether it's video, audio or digital, content must be engaging for patients. Online quizzes, video vignettes, puzzles etc are all good ideas but if they aren't interactive, they won't be able to capture patient attention and enhance comprehension of information. With technologies like AR and VR, patients can get in-the-moment reminders so that they are directed towards making the right lifestyle and behavioural changes that will improve their overall health.

The writer is a Dermatologist

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