Digital Innovation

Building a Healthier Future (Part III)

October 3, 2019  |  Providence Digital Innovation Group

The Digital Innovation Group here at Providence St. Joseph Health is constantly tracking the latest healthcare tech to find ways to give you more control over where, when and how you access services to help you live a healthy, active life.

In this information age, data is everything — and everything we do produces data. Whether it’s a record of the food you buy each week, the number of steps you walked today or a listing of the Netflix series you binge-watched last weekend, the amount of information you generate about your habits, likes, dislikes, and lifestyle is enormous. When you pair that with the advanced health technology being developed, the vision of your future healthcare experience may start to resemble what you previously thought was only possible in science fiction.

Take a closer look at three innovative ideas that may offer solutions to some of the healthcare challenges you face.

Data-driven meal planning

Using large amounts of information gathered from a variety of sources to determine trends, habits, and preferences is nothing new. It’s the cornerstone of many research studies and a reliable way for marketers, retail companies and even healthcare institutions to glean insights into behaviors and beliefs.

What is new, however, is how technology can help you use your personal information gathered from sources like your grocery receipts, online food diaries, or apps you use to examine your eating habits and make suggestions about ways to improve your diet and health.

·       Menu planning apps can record your food intake, compare it to your activity level and make menu recommendations designed to help you find your ideal weight.

·       Nutrition apps can look at your blood pressure, heart rate and other vital statistics and plan a menu that addresses your health concerns.

·       Your smartphone camera can be used to take photos of the food you eat and estimate its nutritional content while keeping a record of your diet.

·       In the near future, it may be possible for your doctor to examine the nutritional history you’ve generated and use it to prescribe a diet that is personalized to your needs.

Retail-inspired healthcare

Picture all your healthcare needs in one place with convenient hours of operation and a comprehensive offering of the services you and your family need. Now imagine that dream location offers easy access to care and a customer-centric experience focused on you. It sounds like a fantasy, right? Not for long.

Healthcare leaders across the country are currently looking at ways to pair tried-and-true retail strategies with advanced technology to improve their offerings and give patients the care they need, how and when they need it — without lengthy wait times for referrals.

·       Multiple services in one, well-designed, inviting location eliminates waiting and creates a more positive experience all around.

·       Technology can help create a fully-integrated approach that gives you access to your healthcare providers in ways that weren’t possible before like telemedicine, patient portals and no-wait appointments that can be scheduled online.

·       Robust online directories can be used as a gateway to access care, research doctors and facilities and determine insurance and payment requirements.

·       A seamless experience that focuses on holistic, patient-centered care is the ultimate goal.

Smartphone imaging

Smartphones are truly amazing devices with nearly unlimited potential. Using apps and attachments, smartphones may soon make advanced diagnostic imaging available to anyone with training and a Wi-Fi connection. In the future, when directed by your doctor, you may be able to give yourself an ultrasound or MRI through your phone and then send the results to your doctor’s office. This can also reduce your time spent on referrals, scheduling or long imaging procedures.

·       Smartphone-compatible attachments turn the device into an ultrasound machine capable of producing imaging for a variety of services including screenings, diagnosis, biopsies, and IV placement.

·       Data can be gathered from any location, no matter how remote, and sent to specialists who are miles away to read, interpret and diagnose.

·       A recently-developed app uses a smartphone to take pictures of specially treated strips that change color after exposure to saliva, urine or other fluids. The pictures can be sent to a healthcare professional for further examination or assessed on-site.