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Put Health Information Technology to Use for Chronic Disease Management

Posted by Rachel Verslues on Apr 4, 2016 10:00:00 AM

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In the past, we shared a post on this blog that talked about ways to maximize data use for better chronic disease management. If you missed it, you can read the post here. Because that post focused mainly on using technology to monitor and manage groups of patients within a practice, we wanted to write a follow-up post and share similar tips for using micro-data to monitor individuals with chronic conditions. This is the follow-up post.

Technology allows us to do so much more for patients with chronic diseases than in the past. It connects patients and physicians like never before. For example, EHR systems can receive patient data so physicians can monitor their patients remotely. And patients can be sent automatic messages based on their health readings.

Put to good use, health information technology can improve how healthcare teams work to manage and prevent chronic disease. The time is certainly right for putting this technology to use, after all, chronic diseases are widespread in this country and every healthcare provider has patients that are affected by chronic conditions.

Here is a look at how your healthcare team can use technology and data to connect with individual patients and provide personalized care tailored to each person’s immediate needs.

1. Remote Patient Monitoring
Like many other practices, you may have an EHR system in place to improve efficiency and keep patient data organized. That’s great because knowledge and use of EHRs allows you to do some pretty advanced things. One is remote patient monitoring. You can feed patient data from remote locations into your EHR system. So, if you have a diabetic patient that you want to keep an eye on, you can have their blood sugar readings pipe right into your EHR system from their home monitors for analysis. This way you will be able to pinpoint issues before the patient becomes ill enough to head to the emergency room. Remote patient monitoring opens the door to much more effective chronic disease management because it gives you the ability to continuously monitor and collect data from patients. 

2. Patient Hospital and External Care Alerts
Hospital admittance and dismissal alerts give you another way to track patients with chronic conditions. You can receive a real-time notification if an individual has been admitted or discharged from the hospital. In the past, primary care physicians were often left out and sometimes did not find out about ER visits or inpatient admissions until well after the fact. Now, you can know immediately if a chronic condition has sent a patient to the hospital.

3. Patient Portals
When you are trying to manage and prevent a patient’s chronic disease you want as much information as possible about that patient. That is one reason patient portals are valuable. They more closely connect you to your patients. If a patient has questions about how to use their inhaler, or they have developed a new symptom and aren’t sure whether they need to be seen in the office, they can easily get answers by sending a message through a patient portal. This communication helps you understand how well a patient’s condition is being managed even when you aren’t treating them in person.

One important thing to recognize is that all of these tools work to strengthen communication between doctors and patients. Technology that delivers data, makes information accessible and strengthens communication is changing chronic disease management for the better.

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