An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – An old adage that we are starting to see health care systems and individuals around the world embody. Instead of merely treating sick people, we are all focusing more on innovative ways to integrate prevention and wellness into all aspects of people's lives, both to reduce chronic issues and hospital readmission and to address health practitioner shortages.
Technology innovation is a game changer in prevention and wellness, not just in hospitals and healthcare environments. Increasingly, mobile consumer technology is being used to promote it. Just think of the number of apps that are available on the Apple Appstore or Google Play – heart rate monitors, blood pressure trackers, activity sensors. The Apple watch even has a built-in activity app that reminds you to stand for a minute each hour! More advanced applications come in the form of digital health coaching solutions or stress management products offered by Johnson and Johnson. And there are more start-ups around the world, wanting a piece of the sustainable health market.
Healthcare is also much more social today: interactive programs such as Fitbit that help us motivate one another to stay active and healthy, support groups for conditions like depression and autism, these are all highly accessible. But with all that modern medicine has to offer, there is nothing more assuring than speaking directly to a doctor about your situation, growing a relationship with a physician, and building up a health history that is more than just a single diagnosis. So how do we keep the important personal aspects of physician relationships while taking advantage of the modern advances?
Take the following life stages, where secure and robust voice and video technologies remove physical limitations and enable new ways for flexible delivery of information across a wide variety of healthcare professionals, patient and the broader community:
Prenatal Care and Infancy
Video access and connected care support exhausted, anxious mothers and fathers when they need support most. From carefully watching developmental milestones to offering more regular, personal health screenings, connected health allows for earlier interventions for children who are not progressing physically (e.g. failure to thrive) or mentally (e.g. inability to follow sounds). With earlier intervention comes better prognoses, and video access can offer more efficient care in these circumstances.
Childhood and Adolescence
Health habits throughout childhood are directly related to lifelong health. Reaching into both homes and schools, wellness programs can nurture healthier diets, a bigger focus on exercise, more regular health screenings (even when parents are two busy or uninformed to keep these up), and even mental/emotional health check-ins during the volatile prepubescent and puberty years.
As adults become in charge of their own health and wellness, regular checkups with doctors often get pushed down the priority list, below career and family. Collaborative healthcare helps adults work key checkups and appointments into their busy schedule, remove the challenge for those who travel regularly or can’t leave their children behind, and otherwise remove many barriers to improved wellness and more productive lives.
For many elderly, the ideal of living alone and independent is preferred, but can be scary. Video conferencing is a way to offer independence while still making it easy for family, caregivers and physicians to check in regularly, monitoring whether more care or oversight should be discussed. Video communication can also work to much more quickly diagnose acute medical events, and follow up after these events, reducing the need to stay in a medical facility for a prolonged period of time.
For those of us who did not grow up as “digital natives,” much of this health and wellness care via video seems futuristic and hard to imagine. But for today’s infants and children, this type of medical communication will not only be imaginable, it will be the norm. Connected health is just one of many ways that video communication will improve our lives, but it’s one that we’ll all begin to feel in the near future. See more on how video supports and connects us at every health challenge we could possibly face.