Commentary

5 ways digital health technologies are patient advocacy tools


 

References

5. Provide for better continuity of care.

Lack of continuity of care leading to medical errors is not a new topic of discussion. This is relevant in both the inpatient and the outpatient setting. Mobile digital technologies can reduce errors by improving communication to both providers and patients as well as among providers themselves. Use of digital tablets at the bedside by patients can improve provider-patient communication and decrease errors. Handoff of patients among providers is another opportunity for mobile health tools to decrease errors. One such app is Smart Sign Out. Ultimately, any tool that decreases errors is a patient advocate tool.

While some physicians believe that patient advocacy is distinct from patient care, I submit that patient advocacy is something any good physician does every day with every patient, including conveying empathy, providing easy to understand explanations of conditions, and offering advice to be considered in a shared decision-making process. We all enter the field of medicine because we want to contribute to the well-being of others. Let’s not lose sight of that, and let’s look to available and emerging technologies to assist us in this mission.

Dr. Scher is an electrophysiologist with the Heart Group of Lancaster (Pa.) General Health. He is also director of DLS Healthcare Consulting, Harrisburg, Pa., and clinical associate professor of medicine at the Pennsylvania State University, Hershey.

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