Digitalized Health: Invading Health System
Health system is a very old subject which is debated, torn, re-created, broken and repaired. Because health is our basic need, we need to shape it with the time and to satisfy the different needs of our society. At old times, when there were less number of doctors, many educated person needs to share their scientific knowledge and then times change. People start relying on more medically trained persons.
When merchants emerged, they were served by so called doctors or medically trained persons who used to go to their houses. Doctors with certification emerged with times as people get civilized and they demanded a guaranteed person who have the formal training of medical education. Different courses emerged and at last, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) got almost universally accepted as graduate formal training to become doctor.
Again years passed, different courses emerged and different courses came into being. Different modalities of treatment and different para medical courses came into being. Now in this era and ultra modern times, people is very busy with their daily schedule and modern technologies already have a great impact on our lives.
Newer technologies allowed us to communicate from long distances and at any time and from any where. Internet and social networking has changed our lives and shaped our lives in a new form. We can leave a message for someone who can see the message at his or her convenient time to reply. Digitalisation occured in every subject of our lives including Health System.
Today, health services are being provided through social networking in extensive way. Let’s see how and where we can exploit this digital world in consolidating Health System.
In your ultra-busy schedule, internet has made health services very sufficiently easy for you. In our daily lives, we have different query regarding health. Sometimes, they are small queries which are not significant enough to make us visit a doctor. Sometimes, there are other problems which hinders visiting a doctor.
You may not get a doctor of your choice, you may not like waiting with other patients, you may be simply lazy to go. At the same time, you do social networking every time. So, instead of posting something in social network, you can just post your health query in some platform which will be replied afterwards by a doctor. This reply may help you a little or at least the doctor can tell you whether it is important or not. It is like chatting with others. Here, Digitalised Health System comes into being. Let me divide and explain each of the form of Digitalised Health System.
There are mainly Six forms of Digitalised Health System:
There are many websites which provide knowledge about health conditions. They provide information regarding disease’s causes, risk factors, features (signs and symptoms), diagnostic methods, treatments available, etc. You can have information passively on any disease condition. This form of digital health system gives you all the information available regarding a disease till date. You will get all the signs and symptoms that can happen in any given disease condition.
Advantages: Passive knowledge about any disease
Disadvantage: May not satisfy your problem. No expert opinion. Sometimes, persons other than health professionals write them as they understand. If you misinterpret any information, it gives you wrong impression.
This form of Digital Health System provides you a specialised platform where you can post question/query which will be answered by anyone interested. The forum is made for particular subject and topic. A health forum will only allow health related discussions. However, the answerer may be health professional or may not be health professional. Atleast you can get public opinion of your health problem. But you can rely on it or sometimes should not. You should judge the person who is giving the reply to your question or query.
Advantage: You can easily post your smaller to smallest health problem anytime from any where. You can maintain privacy of names and identity or privacy from your own family, get many answers to your problems, can get a handful of ways to solve your problem and also can post blood test result or Imaging Result.
Disadvantage: The answerer may not be health professional and may mislead you. You have to judge the answerer. You may get inconclusive answers which may not satisfy you.
Example: Medblog18 Health Forum
Almost same as forum but this is non-specialised. Means forum is a specialised platform meant for a subject (may be health, may be science, business, politics) but community like social networking sites are non specialised. Everyone is present there with their real names and anyone can throw a question and anyone can answer it. In fact, people can get disappointed to see health problem posted by you because no one is expecting question like that. In forum, if someone post some health problem, it is expected as forum is meant for that but social networking site or community is general purpose platform.
Advantages: It is general-purpose platform and it is easy to post as you are already member of that community. And all other advantages are there in a health forum.
Disadvantages: Your privacy is heavily hampered in front of your relatives, friends, families and most likely, you will get wrong and inconclusive answers and advices from them.
These softwares offers you different health services. It may be free or may be with a subscription fee. It can give you different information on diet, your Basal Metabolic Index (BMI), your fitness record, diet record, etc. Many health softwares are available for your mobile which you can download from any app market.
Advantage: Easy access from your mobile. Access any time from any where. May also be free. Very rarely helpful
Disadvantage: May not help you significantly. Provide services which are superficial and you may not be interested so much or they may not be so helpful for your health.
This form of Digital Health System can be found in different health and fitness website where you can ask a doctor, most probably the doctor who maintains the website or the doctor who is in charge of Medical department of that Health Website. Many websites are there where you can “ask the doctor”. This is like private clinic of a doctor. This website also contains information regarding many diseases, health blogs, forums, etc. These websites are, many times, combination of many forms of Digital Health System. Now the best thing is you can tell your own health problem to the doctor. And you can have normal conversation with the doctor as you do in real life.
Advantages: You can get many information regarding health, can ask the doctor, have a chat with him, present your real life problem and get solution accordingly
Disadvantages: You have to either bookmark the website or write the full name in order to visit the website each time (many websites have their own mobile app which make you easy to visit by simply opening the app).
This form provides you with a social networking ability with the doctors. Doctors will join this website (just like joining hospital as a job), may get patient to consult and get fee from the patient. As a patient, you have to join the website (as a patient), choose your doctor as you like, tell your problems, submit your blood test result or imaging, pay the fees and get solution from the doctor. The website may keep a portion of consultation fee and rest will be paid to the doctor. Sometimes, this type of platform may refer patients to doctor’s chamber (real life chamber) and help increase the communication between the doctor and patient.
Advantages: Choose your doctor, consult your specific problem and submit everything (result, imaging, etc) and get full advice.
Disadvantages: No physical examination can be done. Need to pay fees as usual as registered doctor consult with you.