Patient education technology

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Technology has improved human living in multiple dimensions. In healthcare, technology has made the delivery of care more effective and convenient to the clients and care providers. One of the many applications of technology in healthcare is the delivery of information and data from the provider to the patient or other intended parties. On the other hand, patient education is an integral component of healthcare delivery as a more informed patient population is likely to have better health outcomes. The significance of information in patient education cannot be overlooked, especially when it comes to information on invention and its outcome. In addition, the application of technology patient education quite dynamic, which prompts a thorough review and assessment.

Growth of Patient Education through Technology

The continued integration of the technology innovations is based on the premise that the provision of instruction capacity to the patient will lower the autonomy of providers in the process and, as a result, a common ground is reached. The development in technology use has also been prompted by the ability to modify and customize the conveyance technologies to meet the needs of the patient. It is important to note that the number of options from which the stakeholders, particularly the patient and caregiver, can choose from is quite expansive (Kuosmanen et al., 2009). Also, different conveyance technologies have distinct strengths and weaknesses in consideration of the type and volume of information that can be shared. In this regard, it is possible to select the different conveyance technologies for presentation, screen sharing, and document sharing.

Conveyance technologies have been adapted in the creation of intuitive systems that integrate the provider, patient, and other stakeholders with the intention of creating information grids. The intuitive innovations are highly appropriate when the development and dissemination of information is simultaneous. For instance, patients receive information on the progress of intervention in real time when it is prepared by the healthcare service provider (Or & Karsh, 2009). Generally, the intuitive technologies provide a highly customized and sophisticated source of patient education, especially considering that patients receive information that is only relevant to their care. The innovations also give the patient a voice in the process as they can enquire any information they may be interested in from the healthcare professional. It is now prudent to consider the particular applications of technology in patient education.

Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are one of the primary sources of information in the modern age. Applications developers have introduced a broad range of mobile healthcare applications that enable patient access information and data, which reduces the limitations caused by geographical biases in network connection. As a consequence, the application of mobile devices as information sources has been on the rise. For patients, utilization of mobile information technology devices shifts the interface and point of care to their convenience while reducing the effort that both parties, the patient and provider, make. The use of the technologies has gone beyond the mere collection of data and information from the client for the purpose of clinical-decision making to the delivery of intervention vitals (Demiris et al., 2008).

One of the primary benefits of mobile devices is the support for real time decision-making among patients as access to information is instantaneous. Nevertheless, the number of mobile information technologies that consider the patient as a participant in the healthcare delivery process is quite limited. In fact, most of the available applications assume the traditional model where the patient was merely the recipient of instructions where the assumption of compliance is highly exploited. Nevertheless, the mobile technologies have contributed to significant improvement in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, diabetes, and asthma. In addition, the adoption of the mobile technologies for information on nutritional intake, drug dependence, and smoking cessation has increased in the recent past (Or & Karsh, 2009).

Internet Applications

The internet can be considered as one of the largest and expansive source of information on healthcare. There have been tremendous increment in the number of internet-based education platforms that provide information about healthcare to patients. In addition, there are internet applications that facilitate the communication between the patient and the healthcare provider while others enable the formation of patient communities where information can be freely shared (Kuosmanen et al., 2009). Disease control as intensively relied on internet applications, especially in the management of diabetes, asthma and other chronic conditions. Through monitoring, the chances of early detection and intervention have increased tremendously and, as a result, the cost of healthcare has been reduced significantly.

It is important to note that there are two broad categories of web-based applications in the provision of patient education. There are those that support self-care where the involvement of the healthcare provider is quite limited while others support the co-management of diseases through partial self-care. Both categories have resulted in significant successes in patient education considering that there are conditions that rely heavily on the input of the practitioner for positive outcome. The home asthma monitoring system is one of the most relevant example of web-based applications that support self-care capacities. The system enables patients to acquire round-the-clock support on how to maintain asthma. However, it is not possible to identify the specific contributions of the internet applications in the delivery of patient education primarily due to the lack of sufficient and precise data on their effect on outcome. Still, internet applications are dependable sources of patient education in the modern healthcare environment (Demiris et al., 2008).

Personal Experience

As a healthcare provider, I always appreciate patients with broad knowledge about their conditions as it makes the delivery of care quite simplistic. In fact, I advise my patients to seek additional information about their diagnosed illnesses and ask questions in case they are confused. Although my attitude towards the use of technology, especially internet applications, as sources of patient education, there was one situation that got me questioning the level of dependence on the sources. A female patient who was previously diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) stormed the facility’s reception and accused the physician who had diagnosed her of incompetency and unprofessionalism. She argued that the doctor was afraid of telling her that she was suffering from lung cancer, whose symptoms are quite similar to those of COPD. The patient had searched the internet just to find that coughing, fever, shortness of breath, and chest pain are symptoms of cancer although they are common for COPD.

The Future

The inception of technology in the provision of patient education has resulted in the shift of power over the delivery of care from the provider to the patient. A more informed patient is able to make better decisions about key aspects of their care with assistance from the provider. Traditionally, patient education was limited to medicinal application, use of pharmaceuticals, and illness brochures that provided relatively low standards of information. However, the integration of advanced information technologies such as the mainstream media, the internet, and mobile applications, patient education has grown to provide a larger body of information despite patients having the power to compared different information sources for relevance and reliability. Generally, the introduction of technology in patient education has given the patient more power as a stakeholder in healthcare delivery. In this regard, it is very likely that the power of the patient over healthcare matters will increase gradually in the future as more technologies that improve access to information are introduced. It is likely that patient will be able to perform self-diagnosis and treatment of a larger number of diseases beyond the present capacity.

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  1. Demiris, G., Afrin, L., Speedie, S., Courtney, K., Sondhi, M., & Vimarlund, V. et al. (2008). Patient-centered applications: Use of information technology to promote disease management and wellness. A white paper by the AMIA Knowledge in Motion Working Group. Journal Of The American Medical Informatics Association15(1), 8-13. http://dx.doi.org/10.1197/jamia.m2492
  2. Kuosmanen, L., Välimäki, M., Joffe, G., Pitkänen, A., Hätönen, H., Patel, A., & Knapp, M. (2009). The effectiveness of technology-based patient education on self-reported deprivation of liberty among people with severe mental illness: A randomized controlled trial. Nordic Journal Of Psychiatry63(5), 383-389. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08039480902825241
  3. Or, C. & Karsh, B. (2009). A systematic review of patient acceptance of consumer health information technology. Journal Of The American Medical Informatics Association16(4), 550-560. http://dx.doi.org/10.1197/jamia.m2888
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