Technology, Healthcare 101

How Digital Technologies Are Transforming Community Health

06/23/2022

Access to quality healthcare has never been more important than during COVID-19. At the same time, the pandemic has put the spotlight on serious disparities in U.S. healthcare, leading to poorer health outcomes in communities with limited access to services as well a greater exposure to health risks.  

The news isn’t all bad, however. COVID-19 has also driven innovations in digital healthcare technology that have tremendous potential to improve the health and well-being of communities nationwide by enabling greater health equity. Indeed, the digital healthcare transformation is well underway, propelled largely by telehealth. 

 

Telehealth Brings Care to the People 

Widely embraced by patients and providers during the pandemic, telehealth has brought quality healthcare services to underserved communities and individuals who — for a variety of reasons — are unable to visit their doctors in person. With telehealth, patients no longer need transportation, a nearby doctor’s office, or extra time to get the basic healthcare they need. 

Solutions like DocDay, an online provider portal, are making it easy, convenient, and affordable for people to consult with a physician — regardless of their zip code, insurance status, or income. Using DocDay, individuals can quickly schedule a virtual doctor’s visit for diagnosis and treatment, seven days a week — including after normal office hours. 

Organizations who serve at-risk populations like those experiencing homelessness are also using telehealth to bring healthcare services to their underserved communities. In one study conducted with the Medical University of South Carolina, researchers collected data on participants experiencing homelessness who were given access to virtual healthcare services. Over 38% of participants said that without telehealth, they would not have sought care at all. 71% said they would continue using telehealth services for their healthcare needs1. 

 

Community Health Dashboards 

Telehealth joins a wide range of new innovations that are transforming community healthcare. Emerging technologies such as neighborhood health dashboards help providers, organizations, and local government agencies capture a complete picture of a community’s health — including health outcomes, the spread of diseases, preventative healthcare, health behaviors, risk factors, and environmental/economic health conditions2.  

One platform, called mySidewalk, identifies the presence or lack of a community’s walkability, access to healthy food options, and other factors that can impact the health of local residents3. Digital healthcare technologies — such a mobile phone alerts — can also be used to share important information about health and wellness to the wider community. 

 

Digital Care Coordination 

Providers and hospitals are paying closer attention to community health and health equity, and turning to technology improve healthcare outcomes as well as access. Using digital healthcare technologies, providers can better coordinate care and share patient information. For example, digital care management tools can help providers ensure that patients who are discharged from a hospital or ER receive appropriate follow-up care. A patient’s primary physician can also use digital tools to share images, lab test results, patient data, and diagnostic information with a cross-team of specialists to plan the best course of treatment. 

 

Taking Control of Our Own Health 

Digital healthcare technologies can also empower people to better manage and improve their own health and wellness. With the growing prevalence of remote health monitoring devices, wearables, and apps, individuals can monitor and track all manner of health indicators — including heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, sleep quality, eating habits, fitness goals, weight gain/loss, stress levels, moods, and much more.  

Armed with this insight, individuals have the information they need to make healthier decisions and lifestyle changes. They can also share this information with their healthcare providers to help them better understand, diagnose, and treat their patients. 

Employers are starting to adopt digital health technologies to help their employees have more control over their own health. One such solution is Enrollme, a digital platform that enables employees to search for and purchase their own health plans, based on individual needs and budgets.  

More than a digital marketplace, Enrollme also connects employees to a wealth of information that allows them to keep track of the healthcare services they receive, their costs, as well as tools and resources that help them adopt healthier lifestyle habits. While empowering employees to have more control over their healthcare journey, Enrollme helps employers improve retention, engagement, and productivity as well as lower their costs and administrative burden.  

Employers know that having a healthier workforce is good for everyone. And we know that healthier communities are also thriving communities. Whether you’re an employer looking for better solutions for your staff, a provider looking to improve access to quality care for your patients, or an individual seeking quality healthcare that’s more affordable and convenient, we’re here to help. We’re part of your healthy community, too. Reach out to us today at (800) 467-4898.  

 

  1. https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/telehealth-can-improve-health-outcomes-for-homeless-population
  2. https://hitconsultant.net/2020/09/02/blue-shield-of-ca-launches-digital-neighborhood-health-dashboard/
  3. https://www.themedicalcareblog.com/technology-and-community-health/

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