Follow-Up for Millennials: Paper vs. Electronic Health Care Communication
I am 23 years old and, unfortunately, I have already had my fair share of injuries and medical mishaps. These injuries have led to plenty of urgent care and emergency room visits, several rounds of physical therapy, and even a couple of surgeries. Each of these encounters has been accompanied by some varying amount of post-visit instruction from my health care providers, most commonly in the form of a paper packet. For physical therapy there were exercises, for kidney stones there were instructions on prevention, and with surgery came a list of symptoms to look out for after the operation.
Problems with Paper Patient Education Packets
The paper packets worked fairly well in a couple of regards: I always trusted the information I was getting, I could reference what the physician told me if I had forgotten, and I often had access to helpful diagrams alongside the instruction text. I was, however, very prone to losing or destroying the important yet vulnerable packet and the information it contained. All it took was one spilled cup of coffee, a visit from the overzealous family dog, or a well-meaning mass recycling effort, and I was back to using the internet to guide me or calling up my doctor’s office for information.
These paper packets came with a couple of other flaws. In addition to the extra paper resources used (save the trees!), they didn’t cover every single question that I hadn’t known to ask when I was sitting with the physician. Also, in the event I wanted to share the information with a friend or family member, I would have to find a scanner, to which I normally did not have access. I would usually settle for a photo from my phone sent over text messaging, which was a cumbersome process with a low-quality output. In the end, these packets served a limited purpose for a short amount of time.
Electronic Health Care Communication is Easier for Millennials
What form of communication would have been easier for an injury-prone twenty-something? In my opinion, the top priority is to deliver the information electronically, preferably on a smartphone. That way, I wouldn't lose the information provided by the medical practice and could easily share that information with others. Ideally, I would also have the ability to reach out to the physician in the event of a complication or additional follow up questions.
Of course, it is important that any health care communication tool does not become a hindrance to the physician or inhibit their ability to complete their daily tasks. In the end, I was looking for a mobile application that I could use to reference and share files that also gave me the ability to contact my physician.
Benefits of Communicating Electronically with Patients
The electronic delivery of information has more benefits than simply preventing someone’s dog from eating their post-surgery instruction packet. It also allows patients to access information more relevant to their needs, as well as make information more accessible and more portable. Patients can also have direct access to a knowledgeable health care professional, rather than turning to the dubious activity of searching their symptoms on the internet.
At pMD, we are dedicated to helping overcome communication barriers wherever they exist in health care. We are similarly dedicated to building software, including HIPAA-compliant text messaging with patients, that is up to the usability standards of modern websites and mobile applications. This dedication to quality ensures that everyone is able to use pMD’s software with ease, regardless of their comfort level with technology. All in all, our goal is to provide more effective communication between patients and health care providers, ultimately resulting in better health outcomes for patients.
Find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our MIPS registry, charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.