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Consumer Health Informatics Technology: Applications & Uses

Instructor: Courtney Webb

Courtney is a High school Health Information Management teacher with a diverse background in the healthcare field. She also holds a MBA from Cleveland State University.

This lesson will discuss emerging health informatics technology that allows consumers to take a more active role in managing their healthcare and how it can be leveraged to communicate more effectively and increase consumer convenience.

Consumer Health Monitoring Technology

Maria needs to review the last time she visited her Primary Care Physician. She remembered that she can locate that information easily by logging onto her Patient Portal and reviewing her most recent office visits. Additionally, she can review her clinical summary to see what care was delivered during that visit and her medical provider's care plan. If her healthcare provider has recommended follow-up visits she can schedule them from her patient portal, this will save her time in the scheduling process and offer the convenience of reviewing her medical records.

In this lesson, we will learn about the various health monitoring technologies available and how they affect healthcare practitioners and patients like Maria.

What are Consumer Health IT Applications?

The U.S. government's Agency for Healthcare and Research Quality (AHRQ) generally defines Consumer Health IT applications as ''a wide range of hardware, software, and Web-based applications that allow patients to participate in their own health care via electronic means.'' Patients can use different types of applications to manage their health; the most common systems are self-management systems, telemedicine, and patient portals.

Self-Management Systems

Chronically ill patients and their families can independently and pro-actively deal with their health by using self-management systems. For example, patients with diabetes are required to manage their blood glucose level. Utilizing an application such as Glooko allows patients to upload their readings via wireless devices, Bluetooth, infrared, or a cable. This type of technology allows for better interactions between patients and healthcare providers because patients are able to accurately report their blood glucose levels, which allows healthcare professionals to provide proper intervention.

Patient Portal

Many healthcare facilities have adopted the use of patient portals. Patient portals are convenient to use because patients can view their healthcare data anytime and anywhere. They can look at various information such as recent doctor visits, clinical summaries, medications, immunizations, patient education materials and lab results. Many applications also allow patients to communicate with their healthcare provider via a secure messaging system to ask questions, renew/refill prescriptions, and update demographic information. In addition to viewing information, patients can also print out documentation from the patient portal. An example of this type of application is Epic's MyChart.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine allows a patient to be treated by their physician remotely. This service is utilized by patients who have a non-emergency need such as follow-up visits, consultations, and medication review appointments. An example is UnitedHealthcare's dr+ on demand, which allows the healthcare provider to discuss a patient's history, symptoms, and complete an exam via cell phone, tablet, or computer. This benefits a patient who may need to see a healthcare provider but cannot make it to a healthcare provider's office because of schedule restrictions or lack of transportation.

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