All patients recovering from surgery would love to have a doctor standing by 24/7 to answer questions, give guidance and offer a little (okay, a lot of) TLC. Unless you’re Tom Brady, or a Kardashian, this level of care is unlikely to happen—even with the best insurance program.
How Healthcare Apps are improving the patient experience
The good news is that, with an increasing number of apps guiding patients through the surgery process, everyone can feel like they are getting personalized post-surgery care through their mobile device.
While these platforms can’t replace the face-to-face care provided by a doctor or other health professional (although we admit some have a better bedside manner!), they are a great intermediary.
Apps give patients greater control over their recovery, can track drug doses, and provide encouragement and guidelines for starting basic exercises. They can also offer patients reassurance if certain symptoms or situations arise post-op.
Should physicians think apps have no place in their medical armory, research has shown that enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) programs reduce the length of hospital stay and patient morbidity. Consequently, more and more hospitals and healthcare facilities are upping their ERAS game, including using apps, so expect to see an uptick in use as healthcare becomes increasingly digitized.
3 Doctor-Patient Communication Apps
Here are three apps already being used by hospitals and care facilities to keep an eye on patients while making the often long and difficult recovery period a little easier.
|SeamlessMD provides patients with a “virtual companion” as they travel through their surgical journey. It supports them through their preparation for and recovery from surgery, using reminders, tasks, progress tracking, and feedback for caregivers. It also tracks paper and verbal instructions, removing any confusion or doubt about what patients should and shouldn’t do before and after surgery.
The app, which is used by both physicians and patients, helps track symptoms and recovery milestones. It also pushes data back to the healthcare provider in real time, so they can spot if something is wrong or not working and adjust their care plan accordingly—all without patients having to leave their living room.
|According to Kaiser Health News, fewer than half of all patients are confident about what to do post discharge. TapCloud takes the guesswork out of recovery. It reminds patients to take their medication, change their bandages, and offers gentle encouragement to do their daily exercises.
The app uses machine learning to respond with the appropriate guidance or instruction, and currently includes over 100 specific conditions for pre- and post-surgical procedures. It tracks how the patient is doing over time, ensuring they are not experiencing unexpected pain or side effects.
A customized word cloud enables patients to tap on whatever symptom they are feeling at a particular moment. It learns from the patient’s previous responses, watches for patterns that could indicate a complication, and simultaneously scans for medication side effects and adds them to the cloud to make sure the patient is not having an adverse reaction to their meds. The app’s advanced analytics alert the care team in real time when a patient requires attention.
Using patient responses, TapCloud measures and monitors results in five areas: well-being, symptoms, pain, medication and vitals. This then enables physicians to update care plans, re-assess medications and send messages. It also allows patients to share their dashboard with anyone they choose, facilitating quick transfer of information among care providers.
|TrackMyRecovery does what it says on the box—it gives patients, physicians and other healthcare providers easy-to-use tools to help the recovery process along.
The app is free and can be used on a tablet or smartphone to keep track of pre- and post-operative instructions. Medical practitioners can easily create, update, and assign personalized patient instructions. Surgeons and other caregivers can use the app to ensure patients follow their instructions, making sure nothing—from lack of understanding to failure to adhere to directives—impedes recovery.
This tracking system can also save surgeons valuable time and money by ensuring patients comply with pre-operative instructions, minimizing last-minute cancellations. Similarly, compliance with post-op instructions can help reduce post-op infections, unnecessary follow-up appointments and time-consuming phone calls.
For anyone worried about sensitive data being compromised, all the apps listed above meet or exceed HIPAA requirements.
Apps connecting doctors and patients will continue to advance
While apps may seem more Dr. Who than Dr. House, technology is going to play an increasingly important part in healthcare as “connected health” becomes more common and widespread. Being able to stay in touch with physicians and caregivers – especially after surgery when mobility may be compromised – means more surgeons will be utilizing digital tech to give their patients “one-to-one” care at the push of a button.
As mobile technology develops, medical apps are likely to become more advanced and specific. It’s clear apps aren’t going to replace surgeons anytime soon – although who knows what technological leaps are on the horizon…. Surgeons and physicians can, however, use technology to reduce the burden of non-essential clinical supervision, freeing up more time to deal with new cases.