Online communication among doctors and patients is growing in prevalence as people rely more heavily on the internet. Digital technology encompasses a broad range of tools such as smartphone applications, e-mail, EMR, patient portals, and telemedicine. Patients are also increasingly using new electronic tools such as personal health records and mobile applications to track details about their health, and sharing those details with their physicians. From diagnostics to practice management, healthcare technology is giving doctors the chance to make their workflow more productive and efficient.
Technology Boosts Doctor-Patient Communication
As effective patient communication has gained more importance, a number of physicians are using different tools to reach them. Many physicians now use portals, email, texting, and remote monitoring.
According to the data from Manhattan Research’s Taking the Pulse U.S. 2014 study, more than a third of physicians said that they had been evaluated or rewarded based on metrics measuring cost of treatment, patient outcomes or referrals over the past year, while two in five U.S. physicians agree that using digital technology to communicate with patients will improve patient outcomes.
Other key findings of the study include:
- Forty-seven percent of Smartphone owners had shown patients images or videos on their devices, and more than a third of physicians had recommended that patients use health apps in the past year.
- Though video consulting is relatively rare, nearly one quarter of physicians report that they or their teams have communicated with patients through a patient portal over the past year, and more than one in five had done so using secure messaging platforms.
- More than one in five monitored patients remotely, and those physicians monitored an average 22 patients per month.
Computer Algorithms to Diagnose Rare Genetic Disorder
The healthcare industry is using technology to improve diagnosis, prevention and treatment of health conditions. A recent report published in medicalnewstoday.com is about researchers from the Oxford University in the UK who developed a computer algorithm that can analyze photographs and diagnose which children have a rare genetic disorder.
The researchers say that their computer program recognizes facial features in photos, looks for facial structures resembling various conditions – including Down syndrome, Angelman syndrome or progeria – and returns potential matches ranked by likelihood.
To make diagnosis more efficient, the team aimed to teach a computer to objectively carry out such assessments. A database of 2,878 images was collected, which included 1,515 healthy controls and 1,363 photos for eight known developmental disorders. Using the latest in computer vision and machine learning, the algorithm increasingly learns what facial features to pay attention to and what to ignore from a growing bank of photographs of people diagnosed with different syndromes.
A description of the face structure is built by recognizing corners of the eyes, nose, mouth and other features and this is compared with what it has learned from other photos. It then automatically clusters together patients who share the same condition. Researchers say that as their algorithm learns more with more data, it makes better diagnosis suggestions for a photo where it has previously seen lots of other photos of people with that particular syndrome.
Healthcare providers can also benefit from the latest Smartphone apps such as A-CHESS to improve patient care and increase the quality of treatment provided.