Monday, October 6, 2014

Digital Health and Me: Better Health Together #digitalhealth

With new advances in technology happening all the time, more and more things are changing and moving into the digital world. When I first started using a computer, I had never even HEARD of the internet. Years later, computers changed, laptops became commonplace and digital information was available in pretty much every industry, including health care.

There are many ways that the digital world has made an impact in health care, from some offices using computer software for patient charts instead of the paper files we are used to - right up to labs sending test results to doctors digitally (which is much faster, and could be sent anywhere in the world this way as well).

Having kids that are ill can be stressful, and keeping track of when you administered a pain reliever can be difficult. Writing it down is great, as long as you remember where you put the paper (which isn't all that easy at 3am). Having apps that allow you to track the time and dose of meds is a great way for parents to stay on top and make sure that we don't accidentally overdose our children (and when both of my boys are sick, and on different dosing schedules and amounts of medicine, they come in very handy!)

My doctor’s office still does most things manually (prescriptions are written down on a pad, referral forms are filled in by the doctor and a sticker placed on the name field with all of the patient information). The boys’ pediatrician has a much more digitally advanced office, and even allows patients to make appointments via email. I absolutely love this option. As a busy mom, when I have to make an appointment that is not urgent, it often slips my mind and by the time I remember it is past business hours. This way, I can email any time of day with my request, and I will receive a response with a scheduled visit within 1 business day. Doing it this way also saves me time, because I don't get stuck waiting for the phone to be picked up, or end up on hold for 5 minutes while the receptionist checks patients in for their appointments.

There have been a few times I have had to visit a walk-in clinic with the kids or for myself and the medical offices there use a software for printing prescriptions. I think this is awesome, and wish that all doctors would go this route. Such a better way to lessen the chance of error on filling the prescription. If it is printed out, there is no questioning what the name of the medication is or the dosing information, unlike hand written prescriptions where the printing/writing may not be clear. More than once I have had to wait while the pharmacist tried to reach the doctor to clarify the dose (and once the office was closed, and the pharmacist could not make out the name of the prescription, and I had to wait until the next day - thankfully it wasn't urgent).

I would have to say that the biggest impact for us as a family would be for tracking my oldest son's asthma episodes. Our doctor needs to know how often he needs to use his inhalers, and we are able to track the information using an app. When I take him in for his yearly check-up (or if I need an appointment to check his lungs) I have all the information at my fingertips (how often he has had episodes, when they occurred) and this helps the doctor see if there are any patterns (exercise, humidity, cold air or respiratory illness preceding etc.) and gives him an idea as to how to tweak the regime that we have. By doing this, we have easily been able to see that his asthma seems to be well controlled, and as he is getting older he seems to be outgrowing it.

Visit to find out the ways that the Canadian health care system is advancing in the digital age. You might be surprised to find out the ways that you are already using digital health!

How has your health care been impacted by the digital world?

This post was brought to you by Canada Health Infoway, however the images and opinions are my own. For more information please visit or follow them on facebook or twitter

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