Technology and Patient Care
It feels like any task or activity you do in 2023 involves technology. We have video doorbells, phones can be car keys, your air conditioning and lights can be controlled from an app on your phone. Not to mention the incredible advances that have led to cell phones being close to miniature handheld computers with access to the internet, cameras, and the ability to reach anyone - anywhere!
What Can Technology Do For Me?
Technology has become woven into our daily lives. In the medical field, advances in technology have paved the way for incredible breakthroughs in new medications, treatment options, and medical equiptment. For example, we now have the ability to look at cells, which to the naked eye aren’t detectable, magnified enough to identify small irregularities and abnormalities and have the technology to separate those cells into groups to study further. It really is incredible (and almost magical) when you think about it.
Advances in technology have allowed for images, test results and doctors notes to be stored digitally making them easier to keep and reference by physicians. Those images, results, and notes can also be sent digitally between clinics and doctors, allowing patients to continue care and treatment with little disruption when moving takes them away from their doctors, or if they want to seek a second opinion. These records can also be sent to you as a patient or caregiver. This allows you to be able to keep a personal record of your cancer markers and levels for easier monitoring and tracking of your disease at home. Accessing your medical records, finding credible educational materials, joining virtual support groups and contacting your doctor can all be done quickly and efficiently online, but only if you know how to find and use it.
Help Navigating Technology
Trying to navigate the world of new technology can feel impossible and overwhelming if you are not a particularly tech savvy person. If you find yourself in this category, here are a couple of suggestions that may make the world of tech a little less intimidating:
- Don’t be afraid to ask family or friends for help. Your family and friends want to help and support you. If you know someone who may be able to help walk you through the areas of tech you aren’t sure about, don’t be afraid to ask. One afternoon (or a couple afternoons…) of teaching could enable you to take charge of your care.
- Ask your doctor to show you what resources they think would be most beneficial for you. Doctors know your specific disease and treatment better than anyone else and can give you a list of the best resources so you aren’t left wondering or searching the internet on your own.
- Take advantage of programs that aim to help you feel confident in navigating technology. For example, the Digitally Empowered and Digital Sherpa programs from the Patient Empowerment Network (PEN) help patients become more confident in their use of technology. They have both an online course and a program pairing you with specially trained university students to both teach you how to use the technology you have, and also show you some of the amazing resources that are available to you.
Whether you feel confident with tech or are just starting to dip your toes in the water, the world of technology has a lot to offer to you. The more you use it, the more comfortable and confident you will feel in navigating it.
about the author
Mary joined HealthTree in 2022. She works as the AML/MDS Community & Education Manager. She is passionate about giving power to patients through knowledge and health education. If she can help one patient feel more confident participating in discussions with their healthcare team and making treatment decisions, she will feel like she has succeeded. When she isn't advocating for MDS patients, she loves being an aunt, attending concerts, and experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen.