BY, DNP, RN, CCM, CMAC, CMCN, ACM-RN
This month’s theme is Healthcare Trends, with a special emphasis on technology. Technology…does anyone remember when a pager was the height of technology in healthcare? When electronic medical records gave us the ability to see (much less read) all the care team members’ input on a patient’s care? When fax machines were introduced to help speed up referrals? Advances in healthcare technology have progressed so far that we can now visit our provider via virtual visits, access our own medical records on an application on our personal mini-computers (cell phones) and bypass the fax in favor of communicating through the electronic medical record. It truly boggles the mind to think of how far we have come just during the 20-year life span of my own healthcare career.
We now have the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to move healthcare forward even farther, for our patients (and ourselves) to have “wearables” to track their daily health data and improve their lives. And let’s not forget about finding new uses for existing technology… where would we have been without tablets and video conferencing during COVID? It is important for professional case managers to be early adopters of technology, to embrace it for all the possibilities it can bring to make the patient experience through healthcare better. At the same time, we need to ensure that our patients have a level of health literacy, technology literacy and comfort with technology to be able to use what technology can offer them.
For example, I have a love/hate relationship with technology. At work, I am a “super user,” project lead and embracer of all things tech. At home, I can’t figure out the streaming service remote or how to switch back and forth between different media players. Go figure. It’s all about perspective. And that is the one thing we, as professional case managers, need to keep in mind.
I was recently asked if I thought some patients struggle with technology and what could we, as case managers, do to support them. The answer to the first part of the question, of course, is yes. Especially for some of the not so tech savvy population or patients experiencing acute issues or declines. A patient’s abilities may have changed from one visit to another. For example, my mother was quite tech savvy up until about a year prior to her death. Her ability to use technology declined dramatically from a person who engaged in online dating to someone who could not figure out how to dial her phone.
So what can we do to help? First, every patient must be evaluated for their ability to use the technology that they may need at IPOPBA every healthcare interaction. Connecting with more tech savvy caregivers or local resources that can provide support can be an excellent strategy. Second, if a patient is going to be using some type of technology, we need to ensure they are using it correctly. Hands-on demonstrations coupled with teach back can identify any gaps. Third, we can become the expert in using the technology so we can provide support as we help them navigate their healthcare journey.
Technology is not only here to stay but growing by leaps and bounds every day. It is key to 21st century healthcare and facilitating positive patient outcomes. As you read through these fabulous articles, keep that in mind. How can case management use these advancements to help our patients through every step of the care continuum?