Adapting technology to the healthcare industry has always been a slow going process, even though the implementation of these innovations would greatly improve patient care. One primary concern is in giving the patient more control over his or her healthcare options, but obstacles have prevented these advances from moving forward. One such obstacle is in determining what the patient needs versus what the healthcare industry thinks the patient needs.
At this point, the majority of patients do not need more technology. In fact, too many tech gadgets may end up overwhelming older patients who just will not understand how to use these applications and devices. Instead, they need greater attention paid to peripheral services, such as non-emergency transportation to medical facilities. For many older individuals, simply getting to a hospital, doctor’s office, or treatment center is a major challenge.
Ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft are one option, but, again, that raises the issue of using smartphones and apps that may seem to complex. In some cases, elder patients do not even own cell phones and, even if they were given the devices, they are too computer illiterate to know how to use them.
Seeking to solve this problem, CareMore Health partnered with Lyft to learn what problems patients specifically experienced in terms of getting transportation. Together, the two organizations developed a model that allows for the timely pick-up of patients with drivers who are sensitive to their special needs. The system uses a transportation hub that directs drivers to pick up seniors from their homes for appointments and deliver them back home. In addition to saving time and ensuring better patient care, the new system saves $1 million a year in transportation costs.
In some cases, technology does provide the answer. Such is the case in helping physicians communicate more effectively with one another. In caring for just one patient, a primary care physician may have to confer with several specialists, a pharmacist, a surgeon, and other caregivers. In the past, each communication was handled differently via email, text messaging, phone calls, etc. CareMore Health again seized an opportunity to unify the system by developing one app, TigerText. By compelling all caregivers to utilize the app, communication is streamlined and more easily shared between physicians and other professionals.
As the first version of TigerText was rolled out, caregivers were asked for their input. As suggestions were considered and implemented, the app was made more efficient and has updated features. Still in the early stages, satisfaction is already high with this app.
Improving healthcare services requires a multifaceted approach. While adopting digital health technology can help physicians provide better care and decrease wait times and extra costs, patients also need better access to services. Combining human services with technology can ultimately work to better healthcare much more than focusing on just one aspect.