As the number of patients diagnosed with chronic diseases continues to rise, providers are searching for ways to minimize costs and effectively assist patients through alternative approaches. Luckily, the tide is turning with the decade — evidence of holistic practices and a concentration on technological efficiencies are giving the medical community hope for a better way.
According to the World Health Organization, 80% of today’s chronic diseases could be prevented with behavioral lifestyle improvements. Due to the rise of chronic diseases, medical providers are reorienting patient care to focus on more holistic approaches.
Among these new holistic approaches is the practice of lifestyle medicine, which is an evidence-based medical specialty that can help you make healthy changes to improve your health, manage or eliminate chronic conditions, reduce your need for medications and get you feeling your best. In short, lifestyle medicine is about replacing unhealthy and unsustainable behaviors with positive ones.
There are four main pillars that encompass lifestyle medicine: nutrition, physical activity, relationships and stress management. Providers use these pillars to encourage patients to actively participate in helping their body heal and protect itself. Lifestyle medicine programs are emerging as a first line of defense for physicians, using medications as a supplement to beneficial lifestyle changes.
Advanced Technology Platforms
The convergence of science and technology is generating new dialogue in the healthcare industry about time-saving resources for medical providers and their patients. As technology continues to advance, computers are able to process data quicker and more efficiently — offering new ways to identify diseases, monitor health epidemics, diagnose conditions and personalize treatment plans.
While computers have already been writing chart notes and ordering tests for some time, virtual portals have come on the scene in the last couple of years as well. These virtual healthcare platforms give patients the ability to connect with their providers without leaving their home. Whether it’s by instant message or video conference, these technologies help make healthcare more accessible to patients like you.
El Camino Health utilizes myCare, which is a free online tool where patients can view their health records using a computer, tablet or smartphone. Through this portal, patients can securely chat with their provider, request appointments and pay their bills online. Online platforms and apps such as myCare will continue to bridge the healthcare communication gap, providing more effective and personalized care to the people who need it most.
One of the ways evolving technology allows physicians to provide more specialized and personalized care is through the use of genomic information. A genome holds an organism’s complete set of DNA. A patient’s genomic information can be used to determine a personalized treatment plan that is tailored to their genetic makeup. But analyzing patients’ genomic data can help on an even larger scale. Providers use this information to map emerging medical trends across vast amounts of patient data, shifting the discussion from passive treatment to proactive prevention.
As a result of these emerging trends, the healthcare industry will continue to improve in the new year and beyond. It’s a new age where intrinsic, holistic approaches validate a back-to-basics lifestyle assessment. The utilization of computer algorithms to analyze vast amounts of data will identify and prevent diseases across the world. Patient-centric platforms will replace missed phone calls and printed-paper records, proving that technology is the answer to better patient care platforms. These emerging trends are sure to keep the healthcare industry moving in a positive direction.
This article first appeared in the January 2020 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.