In a post from 2015, we reported how important the Internet had become, over the previous decade, in enabling health information to be available to all patients. We also suggested that health technology including symptom checkers are becoming tools used in everyday life. A survey published this week by the University of Phoenix supports this and conveys that patients are utilizing healthcare technology to take control of their health. The September survey involved 2,006 US adults of whom 1,215 had been a patient within the previous three months and some of the findings were:
These results show the importance of working in partnership with patients, embracing healthcare technology and encouraging patients to utilize online health information, including symptom checkers, to research their symptoms and conditions. Patients who feel engaged in their care with their health care professional are more likely to comply with care plans which are mutually agreed.
Healthcare professionals can encourage patient’s use of health technology and research by:
Knowledge and competence gained through reliable health technology information leads to increased health literacy and the strength and empowerment needed to manage a disease and reduce its impacts on quality of life. Reliable easily understood information provided by the Isabel Symptom Checker helps towards improved health literacy. When this knowledge has been gained the health literate patient can then process, appraise and apply the information to their own circumstances. A health literate patient is empowered and can have a fruitful discussion with their health care provider. During this discussion, remember that the patient is the ‘expert of their illness.’ Each patient has their own disease which is unique to them. They live with the symptoms and disease day in and day out. They learn to manage that disease or its symptoms and navigate the health system often with the use of healthcare technology, in order to receive the best care, and ultimately management, of their condition.
Alongside encouraging health technology engagement, The Patient’s Toolkit for Diagnosis, developed by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine Patient Engagement Committee, can help patients guide their thoughts and formulate their thinking when they are visiting their healthcare professionals with a health concern. The toolkit helps them prepare for their appointment, document their symptoms and organize their medications. It also provides questions they can ask their healthcare professional to ensure all diagnosis possibilities have been considered for their symptoms.
Encouraging the use of healthcare technology by patients and health care professionals creates a partnership of equals and shared decision making. The health professional welcomes the patient’s involvement and can assist them with finding reliable health information which can be used collaboratively in a two-way process to resolve the patient’s symptoms. If you would like to know more about healthcare technology and our beliefs, take a look at our website or ask us a question in the comments. If you are interested in the Isabel Symptom Checker, you can try it out using the button below.
Mandy has worked for Isabel Healthcare since 2000. Prior to this, she was a Senior Staff Nurse on the Pediatric Infectious disease ward and high dependency unit at one of London's top hospitals, St Mary’s in Paddington which is part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Her experience in the healthcare industry for the past 28 years in both the UK and USA means she's a vital resource for our organization. Mandy currently lives and works in Scottsdale, Arizona.