But technology advances also play a significant role in helping you manage your health and wellness every day, with time saving and convenient tools and platforms that reach beyond the hospital or clinic. Recent innovations driven by technology include:
Wearable technology, including Fitbits and Apple Watches have become mainstream and are more affordable than ever. These devices make it simple to track and monitor daily activity, diet, sleep patterns, heart rate and more, while encouraging individuals to prioritize their health and wellness. But new technology is also making it easier for those with certain chronic conditions to better manage their health. In fact, new devices that monitor blood glucose levels will soon evolve to automatically administer insulin as well, giving diabetics more control over their disease with less disruption in their daily lives.
There are more than 40,000 health and medical mobile apps available today, giving anybody with a smart phone easy access to a breadth of information and convenient functions that was unimaginable just a few years ago. Apps can remind you to take your medication, alert you to potential drug interactions or side effects, refill prescriptions, track and monitor symptoms, and even take cardiac measurements – turning your phone into a mini electrocardiogram. However, apps that are developed without sound scientific research and data or provide inconsistent or inaccurate information or results can be dangerous. If you are planning to use an app to manage a health concern, make sure you talk to your doctor first.
Technology is removing the distance barrier that can limit access to specialists or critical care in some areas or situations. Real time interactive platforms make it possible for physicians to consult with patients around the world, or direct immediate, life-saving care in remote locations. And, specialized devices and apps can deliver continuous information anywhere in the world, allowing doctors to monitor data and evaluate and address patient needs without an office visit.
Electronic health records
The entire healthcare industry has transitioned to digitized records, ensuring complete and accurate patient information is current and easily accessible. An electronic medical record (EMR) is a digitized version of a patient chart maintained by a doctor or hospital, and includes patient medical history, diagnoses, and treatments. An electronic health record (EHR) is a more comprehensive report of a patient’s health, and can be easily shared with multiple healthcare providers, clinics, imaging facilities, hospitals, and pharmacies. Patients can also access their EHR from anywhere, so they can better manage their healthcare and coordinate with their insurance provider.
Hospitals and clinics are taking EHR convenience to the next level with online patient portals that facilitate better insight, communication, and healthcare management. El Camino Health patients can use myCare -- a secure and user-friendly portal – to access their medical records, view test results, review and pay bills, and request prescription renewals when it’s most convenient for them. myCare also offers online appointment scheduling for mammograms and other imaging tests at our Mountain View and Los Gatos hospitals, as well as primary and specialized care appointments at El Camino Health Primary Care (Winchester, First Street and Cuesta Park locations) and the Melchor Pavilion in Mountain View.
This article first appeared in the December 2019 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.