When patients visit most hospitals, they have to fill out long forms asking for detailed medical history. Occasionally they even have to fill out the same form when they go to different departments, such as radiology or oncology. And when patients visit the same hospital later, they have to do the whole process all over again.
This leads to problems such as questions getting skipped or being answered too quickly. There is also the issue of illegible handwriting and problems that may occur inputting data into computer system.
There is a strong need for hospitals and doctors to collect accurate data to better patient care and also aid in medical research.
Subha Madhavan, director of biomedical informatics at Georgetown, is working with Georgetown’s cancer clinics to design Tonic, a tablet health app that easily captures patient information in a fun way.
Tonic is colorful and interactive, helping to move patients through important questions and reduce language barriers. For example, to determine pain scale, you select a number on a colorful keyboard that changes from red (unbearable pain) to green (no pain). Also the app reduces irrelevant questions, such as if you say you have no family history of cancer, it jumps to the next set of questions instead of asking more about your family cancer history. Additionally, Tonic provides definitions of medical terms to help patient understanding.
This sort of technology is crucial in healthcare because it allows physicians to better treat patients and to treat them at lower costs. Doctors can receive the questionnaires immediately on their tablets and address patient health risks as well as the health issues that the patient came in for. Tonic is also HIPAA compliant.
“Many organizations are moving toward this electronic data capture,” Madhavan says. “It really allows for better patient engagement.”
The medical community is trying to shift focus to patient engagement, particularly through the use of technology. Patient engagement is also becoming a focus due to the Affordable Care Act, which will tie patient-reported outcomes to the amount of reimbursements the hospital can receive.
Physicians and nurses are happy with this easy to use app because it is accessible for everyone and allows them to easily capture important information.
Health tablet and mobile apps are becoming a popular way to engage patients in their health and medical care. This is where the future of healthcare seems to be going.