Love it or hate it, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will expand healthcare coverage to an estimated 30 million Americans this year. The good news? Increased affordability and quality of care will be extended to a lot more people. The bad news? Your doctor’s office may get a wee bit crowded.
t Fortunately, there’s a solution. Did you know that you don’t have to physically visit your doctor in order to get treated? That’s because virtual care is going mainstream, and it’s getting easier, and cheaper, for you to access. Whether through personal health data collection, like the track-10,000-steps-daily-on-your-pedometer model, to Bluetooth-enabled medical devices that allow you to, among other things, track your EKG with your phone, to healthcare “e-visits” with your own provider on your smartphone, there are a variety of ways to take advantage of all the new health technology out there. Here are four ways virtual care can help you and your family today.
1. Track your health
t One of the most talked about features on Apple’s recently-announced iOS 8 is the Health app, which provides users with a customizable dashboard to access data from various other health apps, recording things like blood pressure, nutrition info and sleep patterns. There are also more specialized tools for specific conditions: Diabetes management, for example, can be made simpler by a mobile solution like Glooko. Using a well-designed interface, Glooko integrates food information, lifestyle data and blood glucose readings for patients, helping them stay on top of their health.
2. Talk to a doctor from wherever you are
t Need to speak with a medical professional but can’t do it in person? Maybe because you’re traveling, stuck without transportation or simply slammed at work? MDLIVE is a tool that provides patients 24/7 access to medical professionals via video or phone. Another benefit? For those who don’t have (or need) a regular physician, MDLIVE is an excellent substitute.
3. Schedule an e-visit with your doctor
t What about when you do need to communicate with your doctor? A customizable platform like AppVisit (full disclosure, this is the company I run) offers patients and their providers a way to diagnose and treat non-urgent medical concerns, such as a rash, red eye or a UTI infection on their smartphones, without an in-person office visit. Instead, you can receive treatment from your own doctor from anywhere in the world, on almost any device.
4. Get regular reminders
t There are now other smartphone apps that remind patients to take medications, and companies working on using data to improve health outcomes across wide patient populations. HealthLoop is a great one, providing virtual follow-up care that tracks your progress post-treatment.
t Now that we’re living in a time of more expansive coverage for everyone, we in the healthcare arena are working harder than ever to deliver care in a whole new way. With new technologies like the ones above, you can make care for your family more convenient, and waiting-room-free, than ever before.