Physicians Leading Patients to Quality Medical Information Online

To create and foster high patient engagement, every patient must be able acquire thebook-1659717_1920 necessary knowledge to be informed. For the longest time, the main source of medical information for patients was their actual physician. Physicians were the gateway into understanding one’s own body and disease process. This has rapidly changed because of the internet.  No longer is medical information trapped in old books or a physician’s mind.  Now there are thousands of ways to find medical information, much of it completely useless, inaccurate, not widely applicable or simply plain wrong.

Many physicians will complain that their patients find medical information online and want to discuss it or use it to drive diagnosis and treatment. They are worried that the information their patient found is not accurate, that it will distract a patient from the real medical issue.  To some degree, all physicians worry about losing their position as an arbiter or gatekeeper of what medical information their patient receives, losing that feeling that their patients see them as the expert.

The next natural step for physicians is to become a guide and help patients navigate health information themselves. It should be a physician’s responsibility to to lead their patients to high quality medical resources. As physicians we need to steer our patients towards good information, which will limit opportunities for them landing on less accurate or just plain quack medicine sites. Below is a good place to start when trying to find good quality medical information

General Medical Information
To find high quality medical information on a wide variety of medical conditions I would start with WebMD, Mayo Clinic, FamilyDoctor.org, KidsHealth and the Center for Disease Control.
www.webmd.com
www.mayoclinic.org/patient-care-and-health-information
www.familydoctor.org
www.kidshealth.org
www.cdc.gov

Condition Specific Medical Sites
To research a little more deeply on specific conditions I would recommend the following sites. Both Cancer.org and Cancer.net are excellent resources for information on cancer. Heart.org and Diabetes.org are great for researching cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The National Alliance of Mental Illness has great resources on mental illness.
www.cancer.org
www.cancer.net
www.heart.org
www.diabetes.org
www.nami.org

If you are looking for an objective reference for alternative medicines and treatments, the best place to start is the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. The website for this division of the the National Institute of Health is full of useful information to make better decisions on alternative therapies and can be found at nccih.nih.gov.

Lastly, I would recommend looking at two two parts of the Healthfinder website. Using the guides provided there, it can give every patient a template for how to prepare and get the most out of their time with their own physician. The section called Take Charge of Your HealthCare provides a step by step guide to maximizing your use of the the healthcare system and you can find that here. My favorite part is the section on Talking With the Doctor. This has many common medical conditions and provides a series of questions that you should be sure to ask about each condition. These prompts can make a visit with your physician much more efficient and may propel you to better decision making with your physician. You can find that site here.

Record Breaking

Very happy to announce that this October, Digital Medicine and You has surpassed all of last years visitor metrics.  This website has had more visitors and more page views so far in 2018 than we had all of last year.  Very excited about this and thought I would share.  As always, love to hear any feedback or have conversations about Digital Health.

October 2017 Heads Up Concussion and Helmet Safety App

October 2017 Heads Up Concussion and Helmet Safety App

Heads Up Front PageWhat it is: A mobile app that provides information on preventing, identifying and responding to head injuries and concussions.
What devices: iPhones, iPads, Android devices
Cost: Free 
Who should use it: Parents, coaches, healthcare providers, anyone involved in youth sports
Why use it:   The risk of head injuries during sports has become a regular topic of conversation.  Potential damage to a player’s brain, especially the those younger participants in contact sports is on the mind of many athletes, parents and coaches.  The Heads Up app from the Centers for Disease Control provides well-researched and actionable information regarding head injuries and concussion as well as plans for prevention.
       The most important aspect of prevention of head injuries and concussions is appropriate safety equipment. The Heads Up app offers the Helmet Fit 360.  This interactive component of the app allows users to see all facets of appropriate safe fitting of a sports helmet.  The options cover everything from baseball and softball helmets to helmets for skateboarding and equestrian sports.  It will show you how to measure a child’s head to find the right fit for each helmet, visualize how it might it should fit snugly on a head and clearly show how a child’s eyes should be in relation to the helmet for adequate vision.  Every figure for each helmet can turn 360 degrees by swiping across the touchscreen on your device.Heads Up Eye fit
Heads Up Snug

 

       The other component of the Head Up app is a very in depth look at the information all parents, coaches and even healthcare providers need to know about head injuries and concussions.  There is information on basic signs to look out for, both from an adult and Heads up What is a concussionchild participants point of view.  There are danger signs to review to see if emergency personnel need to be activated.  There are great guidelines to follow to help those children who have had a concussion to help them return to school, succeed in school and eventually return to the plain sports.  There are options to be linked directly to the CDC’s website for further information.

       Overall this app is a must have for everyone involved in youth sports to be aware of the risks of head injuries, work on prevention and if needed, helped an injured athlete recover successfully.

September 2017 Simple Contacts

Title: Simple ContactsFront page

What it is: Mobile eye exam and contact purchasing app

What devices: iPhone and any internet connected computer

Cost: Free to download app, (contacts can be purchased through the app)

Who should use it: Anyone at least 18 years old who wears contacts, no recent changes in vision and no significant eye disorders

Why use it: For everyone out there that has tried to wear their contacts longer than recommended to stretch out their remaining supply of contacts, this app is for you. Simple Contacts is a mobile app that puts you in control of obtaining an eye exam and purchasing contacts on your schedule.

eye exam

Simple Contacts turns your iPhone or computer into a personalized eye exam. Through the app, videos of your eyes are captured while looking up, down and to the side. Then the app directs you to set your phone 10 feet away from you, even giving you guidance on how far away you are. Using voice commands, the Simple Contacts app directs you to cover one eye and read letters on your phone, just like at a regular in person eye exam

The feedback on my exam was much faster than I expected. Honestly, I cheated the exam a little, not completely covering my eyes. Within a couple minutes of completing the exam I received a text from Simple Contacts stating that I needed to redo my eye exam. Specifically, the Simple Contacts system had identified my exam because “it didn’t detect that your eyes were covered properly.” I couldn’t fool the app and re-took the eye exam, this time completely covering my eyes as instructed.

peaking text

Simple Contacts caught me cheating on the eye exam and asked me to repeat the test.

Once your exam is complete, the videos are then sent securely to an Ophthalmologist for review. The next morning I received an email from the physician who reviewed my exam. She had recommended that with my significant myopia, that I really need a true retinal evaluation every year.

I was able to choose the exact style of daily contacts I already use and in 4 days, 6 months of contacts arrived in my mailbox. I never stepped foot in a healthcare institution.

check out

To use Simple Contacts, you really need to have a set of contacts you feel are comfortable to just reorder. I would not recommend trying a different brand through this app.

This app does not replace a complete eye exam performed in person. For many people with certain medical conditions, they should always seek routine eye care. If you have glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts or any type of medical condition with ocular manifestations Simple Contacts is not something I would advise.

Overall, Simple contacts is easy to use and the convenience of the app is spectacular. You will never run out of contacts again.

Inspiration from Healthcare Podcasts

       In healthcare it’s pretty easy to get stuck in a rut. Sometimes you find yourself doing the exact same things the exact same way every single day. Answering the same questions, doing the same procedures. You find yourself coming up against the same obstacles and feel like you’re beating your head against the same wall over and over.
       One way that I like to fight the rut is listening to digitalhealth and healthcare podcasts. I find it very inspirational to hear about leaders in healthcare who have found innovative and disruptive waves to make healthcare more accessible, more efficient and often with better experiences for patients and providers alike.  It’s always great to hear about the trials and obstacles that other people overcome.  When you yourself are struggling, it’s always nice to hear about the success that eventually happens with  hard work.
       Digital Health Today, The Digital Health Podcast and Relentless Health Value all have some of the best entrepreneurs and leaders in the field Digital Health and medicine.  Whether I’m in my car driving, on the treadmill or if I just need a little break from my day-to-day work, I am usually listening to one of those podcasts.  Check out these podcast and I would love to know about any other good ones you are listening to.
DHC Logo
Digital Health Today Podcast Logo.PNG
relentless-header

July 2017 5 Minute Yoga

Title: 5 minute Yoga
 Front page
What it is: A mobile app that provides guided yoga poses
What devices: Android and Apple devices
Cost: Free (with in-app purchases)
Who should use it: Anyone looking to add yoga to their daily routine
Why use it: Performing Yoga on a regular basis has several benefits to ones physical and mental health.  Yoga can improve fitness, flexibility and strength while also relieving stress and improving mood.
       As a physician I often recommend that my patients take a break at work, however brief.  5 Minute Yoga is the perfect app for respite at
 work.  The is designed to be provide guided instructions, both with a cartoon like

Pose

figure that demonstrates the pose and a written description of the pose.
       There are 5 poses to perform each session.  The app recommends using it once daily but could be used multiple times throughout the day.  It is very easy to use anywhere you feel comfortable doing yoga.
       For a small fee, you can have access to more features.  The upgraded features include a broader range of yoga poses, a remainder feature and the ability to add your own music to personalize your workout.
       Overall, 5 Minute Yoga is an easy to use, free app to provide a quick and relaxing workout during a busy day.

May 2017 CardioVisual

Title: CardioVisualfront page
What it is: A mobile app that provides educational videos on cardiovascular topics
What devices: Apple and Android devices
Cost: Free
Who should use it: Physicians, especially Cardiologists, as well as patients
Why use it: One of the most important aspects of a physicians job is to educate.  Physicians must be able to communicate important concepts about disease process and medical procedures to their patients.  The demands placed on every physicians time sometimes makes it difficult to give a patient all the information they would like to.
       For physicians dealing with cardiovascular issues, CardioVisual can provide some much needed help.  CardioVisual is a mobile app that has on demand education videos on many health topics.  The app mostly focuses on the field of cardiology but also has some general health topics like guides to exercise and nutrition.first page
       The topics are broken down into categories: general Cardiac, Electrophysiology,
Structural issues and Peripheral Vascular problems.  Each category includes videos on specific conditions, treatment options and specific devices.
       This type of app could be used in a clinic setting to foster discussion on a new diagnosis or it would also be beneficial in providing more background information in a hospital setting for a patient who needs a cardiac procedure.  One great feature of the app is the ability to draw and write on several anatomic drawings.  Clinicians can explain and inform on the diagram and then print it for the patient – or even email or text it.
       At the CardioVisual website, you can order free cards with a list of topics offered by the app (http://cardiovisual.com/prescription-for-cardiovisual/).  This is a business card sized instruction for patients on which videos their doctor would like them to review or act as a reminder of the videos they had already reviewed with their doctor.
       The app is likely to provide good background for Primary Care Physicians as well.  Any PCP that wanted to be able to know more about specific cardiac procedures can quickly and easily review one of the videos on CardioVisual to obtain a nice overview.  For patients who may need try to explain a new diagnosis or an upcoming procedure to a family member, CardioVisual would be a great resource as well.

       Overall, CardioVisual is a great mobile resource for cardiovascular disease information.