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Monday, May 27, 2013

We Have the Communication Technology – Let’s Use It!

Dr. Wendy Graham is CEO of Mihealth Global Systems Inc., where she strives to improve patient engagement with the health care system. During her career, she has written about health policy reform and system efficiency and has been named as an extremely influential physician in primary care reform and collaborative care models for Canada. 
The Health Council of Canada’s Progress Report 2013: Health Care Renewal in Canada is an impressive report that captures the essence of where we are and where we need to be. There is little doubt that we will require a seismic shift in policy and leadership to make the needed improvements in health care delivery, but not necessarily additional significant investment.

Despite the commitment at many levels, access to health care is delivered primarily at the local level and one’s access to their primary care provider and team remains variable and lacks economic efficiency.

Theodor Marmor, Professor, Public Policy and Management for Yale says that health care reform may occur when governments face serious fiscal deficits.

We must harness the low-cost innovation technology reforms that have high returns on investment, allowing patients to fully engage in their own health care management. The time is now to embrace the 57% of physicians who are using EMRs. Interoperability will ensure needed advances in primary care reform. We must use encrypted email and smart phones in an era of BYOD in business. Estimated savings of time and money using secure messaging or texting with your provider will ensure the accountability of the providers, allowing real time access to simple questions such as the result of a pregnancy test to prevent the unwanted complication. In Diabetes Care, July 2011 the evidence was in: “mobile coaching substantially reduced A1cs (
Glycated Hemoglobin) over one year.”

In the future, the profession will embrace the patient who performed the home-monitored blood pressure reading stored on their mobile phone and discussed it with the pharmacist or nurse before seeing the family physician for targeted medication intervention.

Why not teach a patient about the cardiac risk or the high-risk osteoporosis patient about the ten-year Risk Assessment Tool from Osteoporosis Canada available on iPhones?
Some of the issues are addressed with Telemedicine, which has transformed cancer and psychiatric care, reducing travel and risk in areas of underservice.

The opportunity to value time saved by engaging the consumer has arrived.

•    The Canadian Medical Protective Association has strongly advised the encryption of data flowing electronically between patient and providers in the circle of care.
•    The provision of eCodes recognizes the need for e-consults and will tip the profession to try new mobile technology: attach lab results, diagnostic images, photographs of rashes to ask the dermatologists for the diagnosis.
•    EHRs provide the ability to access and share patient records interfacing with EMRs through the internet or to download  them onto virtually any smartphone or mobile device.
•    We can connect all the allied care providers and others to the circle of care, and facilitate the effective management of population health issues, such as chlamydia identification or cancer screening.
•    The cost is shared with the engaged consumer now motivated to avoid an unnecessary visit to the emergency room and walk-in clinics.

The future will be very exciting.

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