4 Ways Smartphones Can Help Patients and Doctors Save Valuable Time

The past couple of years have seen the monumental impact that the smartphone has had on our everyday lives. From banking to retail, to manufacturing…there is hardly an industry that has not been touched by the smartphone revolution. Healthcare is no different. The smartphone has made inroads into the healthcare segment to improve efficiencies and aid decision-making. Modern-day healthcare mobile apps, leveraging digital technologies, cloud computing, etc. are working towards upending every aspect of healthcare and place the doctor and the patient in the centre stage.

The smartphone revolution had also led to the consumerization of healthcare. Patients want to now take charge and be in control of their healthcare decisions, want more clarity regarding healthcare and demand value of their time. At the same time, physicians juggling multiple clinics and hospitals demand more control of their time.

In this blog, we take a look at a few ways smartphones can assists doctors and patients save valuable time.

Access to Complete Health Records

Physical documents are not only hard to manage but also prone to getting lost and can be difficult to organise. In most cases, healthcare history and health records are stored in fragments…some with a medical practitioner, some at a hospital or some at home, etc. In order to save time during a consultation, having access to the complete medical history saves both the physicians’ and the patients’ time. Mobile apps can be used to upload the patient’s complete health history, lab reports, test results, pathological reports, prescriptions, x-rays, etc. which can be securely accessed both by the doctor and the physician. No time is then lost rummaging for information since all of it is documented in an organised manner on the handy smartphone itself and can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Clearer Communication

How many times have you, as a patient, gone and spent time waiting at a doctor’s clinic only to be told that you need to come back after conducting certain tests? Even doctors, who always are time constrained, have spent time with patients going through their records only to realise that they need to send the reports for a consult with someone else or need the patient to go for another round of tests.

The healthcare scenario is replete with such examples where better communication between the patient and doctor could help both capitalise their time and reduce time wastage. Smartphone health apps can improve the channels of communication between doctors and patients. Since all the health care records, data and information are stored and uploaded to the application, the doctors can easily access these and identify if additional investigations need to be conducted, additional consults need to be made or if the patient can be sent a message regarding any vital piece of information to manage his/her health. The doctors can also share the patients’ medical report with other doctors for consultation with just a tap on the screen which also contributes to saving a lot of time.

Further, using the smartphone, doctors can send patients automated updates regarding health management and pre and post-op management instead of having to do so physically.

With access to their health data, patients too can ask more relevant and focused questions to their doctors. They can discuss medications, side effects, health impacts of their current physical condition etc. more accurately with their doctors. This ensures that the time spent with the physician is optimised and the discussion there is result-driven.

Finance Management

Medical finances can be quite complex to manage and lead to a lot of time wastage for both, the doctor and the patient. Smartphone apps can help immensely here by keeping track of all medical expenses for the patient. Medical bills, doctors’ fees, insurance claims details, cost of lab reports, hospital reports etc. can all be stored the mobile app and accessed from the smartphone whenever required. For doctors too, mobile apps can be of great help in making finance management simpler and more organised. Instead of wasting their time managing their financial transactions and making sure that these are organised, doctors can simply use a smartphone app to centrally store and manage all financial information such as transactions, referral fees, consultation charges, clinic and hospital billings etc. easily and access them whenever needed easily.

Analyse This

Data is king. It gives us detailed and quantified insights to make better and well-informed decisions – both for the patients and the doctors. Better decisions mean better health and patient management which consequently translates to optimal time usage and lesser time wastage. Access to medical health analytics can be easy using a good smartphone app. These apps compare health history, evaluate crucial checkpoints, and reveal relevant data that gives patients intelligent insights into their current state of health. Armed with this information the patients can take preventive steps to improve their health and avoid medical problems.

Doctors also can leverage healthcare analytics to better schedule their time and take a more preventive approach to health and disease management. Analysing medical and health data can inform doctors when patients tend to get sick most, the kind of health risks emerge at which times in the year, what kind of tests are being run repeatedly, what factors are contributing to repeated ailments etc. Analytics also helps in better clinic and practice management – all of this ensure that the time at hand can be used for the best purpose.

Clearly, time today has become the ultimate commodity and a common denominator for both physicians and patients. As the smartphone becomes a ubiquitous part of our lives, it only makes sense to use it to increase the time efficiency of our healthcare interactions and make sure that the time doctors and patients have at hand is utilised in the best possible manner – in decisive conversations that make health better.

10 Common Health Notions Examined Closely

Have you heard the notion about not swimming or taking a bath after you’ve eaten? There are many ways to become healthy, all roads lead to Rome kind of situation. Here are 10 common health notions dissected and presented so you can understand the truth thoughtfully too.

Drinking milk every day is good for you.

Call it aggressive marketing or an old wives tale, adults and even senior adults seem to have their hopes for health pinned on drinking milk every day. Milk is miraculous only up to a certain point for humans. Most grownups want to drink milk for their calcium and vitamin D fills. However, now compelling research now shows there is no direct link between drinking milk and less number of fractures in your life. On the contrary, there is a link with drinking milk and a higher rate of mortality in humans.

The 5-second rule of eating food dropped on the floor.

Have you heard this before? If you drop something on the floor, it’s ok to grab and eat it within five seconds of it falling. Now if it’s the last second chip from your pocket or your only piece of chocolate to sweeten your day – what would you do? Since you’ve heard of this common health notion before, you pick it up and eat it without a second thought, no? First, bacteria and virus don’t need seconds, they get attached to your food within milliseconds of falling on the floor. So give this notion a pass the next time your favourite food falls on the ground.

Don’t eat ice-cream when you have a cold

Most people find ice-cream comforting but if your kid has a cold ice-cream is a strict no-no in the house. Did you know? If you have a sore throat or are sick with a cold, ice-cream can soothe you. Besides, the notion “food the cold” stays true and ice-cream can give you those much-needed calories you otherwise may not get by starving yourself from sickness.

Sugar is bad for kids, it makes them hyperactive

One of the recent and most common notions is that sugar makes children hyper or refined sugar causes attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) in kids. Be comforted that many scientific studies were conducted and these have failed to prove this notion.

Spending 1 hour a day at the gym is good for health 

Going to the gym and exercising an hour a day is great for you. However, did you know? Sitting at the desk or on your couch for five hours straight is equivalent to smoking a whole pack of cigarettes. Yes! Your one hour at the gym is one thing but you have many other hours in the day. Make the most of them too for better health.

Flu vaccination is only for babies

We all need a flu vaccination! Having flu is a serious illness and it can cause serious damage to your body, even cancer! Once you get the vaccination, before the flu season starts, it works without giving you side-effect. Prevention is always better than cure and so, flu vaccinations are critical even for adults and specifically the senior adults.

Taking supplements keep you healthy

Popping pills are fine but if you skip meals and then take supplements to make up the loss is a whole different matter. Vitamins don’t work that way. Taking vitamins or supplements without a go head from a physician is risky. Studies have now found a link between overuse of supplements and increased risk of cancer.

Drink 8 glasses of water daily to lose weight

Drinking water and staying hydrated is important but strictly eight glasses? If you replace caffeinated drinks with water or replace your canned fruit juices with water, you will consume fewer calories in that perspective.

Cure a hangover by drinking one more of whatever you had last night

No, that one shot of tequila again in the morning will not help your hangover. Even coffee is bad to follow up after all the alcohol binging. You are dehydrated so drinking more alcohol or coffee will prolong the effect rather than help it. Drink lots of water and get breakfast instead.

Sugar causes diabetes

Diabetes is complex and there are is no compelling research to suggest a direct link of sugar with diabetes disease. However, if you consume sugary drinks and sports drinks, you can become overweight and weight gain is associated with many diseases, not just diabetes.

With so much information right at your fingertips now, you can’t help but examine these common health notions that people throw at you every day. So the next time you hear something, question it and do the right thing for your health.

 

 

What You Should Know About Generic Medicines

Prime Minister Modi is onto something when he announced about a new law pushing doctors to prescribe generic drugs. If you ask us, we think it is a wonderful move to making medicines cheaper and more available for most people in the country. You may be aware that generic drugs are rather affordable, but few people know more than that. If nothing else, everyone knows how these drugs are less expensive than their branded counterparts.

You need to know a lot more about generics though, such as what makes it affordable, or what regulations generics need for distribution and other fun facts. Thankfully, you don’t have to go anywhere else to know. Here is a well-researched piece and a quick read rather, to tell you everything you should know about generics.

Generic drugs need to be identical to the branded ones.

Any medicine manufacture needs to meet the standard of quality, strength, safety, performance and other criteria. That’s the only way to get FDA approval. A medicine always has active ingredients and inactive ingredients. Whether it’s a brand name or a generic, if the medicine claims to be equivalent to a branded medicine, then the substitute needs to be a bioequivalent too. The active ingredient of the generics needs to be identical to the brand names. Inactive ingredients such as the color or flavor need not be the same. 

They may not look the same though.

Apart from the obvious pricing, the only other difference between the generic and the branded medicines are the inactive ingredients. The inactive ingredients need not be the same in the substitute medicines. These are filler materials such as dyes. They may be of different shapes and sizes too. That’s why generics and branded medicines don’t look the same.

Performance of generics is same as branded medicines.

For generics vs branded, it’s never a question about which medicine performs better. Many perceive that expensive drugs do better, but it is all in the mind. That is only a perceived notion, an incorrect one at that. Generics need to perform exactly the same way as branded medicine. The way it’s administered and the performance characters need to match with branded drugs, only then can generics get the FDA approval for distribution.

Price difference between generic vs. branded is humongous.

Everyone knows generics are rather affordable than branded medicines, but not everyone understands the magnitude of how cheap generics really are. According to the regulations, generics are relatively 80 to 85 percent cheaper than branded medicines. Again, quality has nothing to do with the pricing system of the generics. The active ingredients, the quality, and performance of the substitute has to be the same as the branded medicine.

Generics may have a different time-release formula.

This is another way of saying how fast the drugs get absorbed in the body. Compared to branded medicines, the rate of absorption of a substitute may differ. This is because of the variation in the inactive ingredients. According to the FDA, there is a fair window of variability. Due to this, you may find that a brand works faster or better than its generic. The key here is to not give up after trying just one substitute. Try another and see if that has a better rate of absorption instead of giving up and continuing with expensive branded drugs.

You can be apprehensive of the generics, at some point.

Given that generics have to be identical to the branded medicines, even performance-wise, they work well for the most part. However, FDA recommends branded medicines for special conditions such as thyroid or blood pressure issues. Since there is a small window of variability, branded medicines are recommended for reliability. Also, since the inactive ingredients differ, the color or the flavor or other agents may cause allergy in some people. This is why you need to be careful and closely watch the effects of the medicines if you plan to switch from a branded to generics.

No matter how small the differences may be in the shape or make of the generics vs. branded medicines, it can make a big impact on your finances and your body. Talk to your physician about your prescriptions. Understand which need be branded and which can be substituted. You have a choice, make a wise choice.

All That You Need to Know About H1N1

The recent news of H1N1 or Swine Flu caused panic and uproar of sorts, but that is why you need to know the facts. For instance, did you know? The first pandemic of H1N1 was way back in 2009, in Mexico. It is a respiratory disease and is contagious. It lasts from 3-7 days and serious illness may take up to 9 days to recover. As in the cases of most contagious diseases, the best way forward is prevention. We hope the information you get here helps you prevent or cope with this disease.

What is Swine Flu?

As the name suggests, the virus that infects the respiratory tract of pigs has the same symptoms as a virus in human flu. The pigs that survive, the sickness lasts up to two weeks. People who are closely associated with pigs, for example, pig rearers, vets or pork food processors may come in contact with this virus and develop the swine flu infection through the same virus. Similarly, when humans with flu come in contact with pigs, the pigs can get infected too.

What Causes it?

Swine flu or H1N1 is contagious, so that means that simple acts of coughing or sneezing will send the virus flying into the air, and if ingested or inhaled, you can be infected. Therefore, one thing must be clear here that you will never attract the virus by eating cooked pork. If you touch an infected surface and then eat or touch your eyes and nose, then chances of spreading the virus from saliva and mucus are much higher.

Risk Factors for Swine Flu

From the little outbreaks prevalent since 2009 and the recent one in India, it is seen that H1N1 is most common with children ages 5 years and up. However, you can be at a higher risk of contracting this disease if you were:

  • A senior, over the age of 65
  • Pregnant women
  • Young children under 5 years
  • Teenagers under 19 years regularly taking aspirin therapy
  • Weak immune system
  • Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma or heart disease.

Symptoms of H1N1

If you or your loved one ever had the flu, then the symptoms of H1N1 are much the same. Since it is the respiratory tract that is infected, you will have trouble breathing because of the stuffy nose, coughing, chills, and fever. There can be nausea and vomiting, sore throat, body ache, fatigue, and diarrhea too. It is so exhausting that you will have to rest for two weeks to recover.

Warning Signs

If you are a person with a weak immunity or who easily gets sick, then you may worry, that’s understandable. The symptoms let you know this is a terrible disease however, most patients recover with no problems. The high-risk individuals though are likely to have a worse outcome. The complications may look like a severe case of pneumonia or bronchitis including sinus and ear infections.

Prevention Tips

H1N1 is contagious and so, the easiest way to prevent getting infected by the virus is to keep yourself away from an outbreak in your community. Whether it is school, work or any public gathering, stay at home before you get a vaccination for it. If you find yourself surrounded by people affected by the virus, make sure you wash your hands with warm water and soap.

Avoid touching your face, nose or eyes with unwashed hands. If you feel you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, rush to your doctor for a diagnosis and take prescribed medicines. It’s best to stay at home and rest if you contract the illness. Use disposable tissues or sneeze into your shoulders to prevent others from being infected.

Home Remedies to Prevent H1N1

  • Increase daily intake of citrus fruits, such as amla.
  • Eat at least five tulsi leaves daily in the morning to boost immunity.
  • Drink warm milk mixed with a pinch of turmeric at nights.
  • Swallow two pods of raw garlic, on empty stomach in the morning with warm water.
  • Regular Pranayam can help you keep your throat and lungs healthy.

The best way to ease your symptoms of swine flu is to remain hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids such as warm water, soup or juices. You need to rest as much as possible. Last, stay informed with local community news to learn about new vaccine availability and other relevant information about H1N1.

The Shifting Goalposts Of Popular Health Parameters And What Those Mean For Us

Here’s the irony we all seem to live with – while technology is giving us more and more opportunities to stay ahead of time, somewhere it is also making us too dependent on circumstances. The changing focus on health concerns rightly compliments this argument. While every person, irrespective of profession and gender, ideally needs to take care of health and stay fit, this is all the more true for working professionals who deal with long and stressful work hours. Consequently, diabetes, cholesterol, and thyroid top the list of most common health concerns faced by the working class.

Change in Health Parameters

Earlier the parameter set to identify if a person was diabetic, for example, was if the fasting blood sugar level was above 140 (i.e. 140 milligrams of glucose per decilitre of blood). However, in 1997, the Expert Committee on the Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetes Mellitus brought down the number to 126. This was probably more from a preventive point of view wherein; experts felt that sooner a condition was treated better the chances of a person from avoiding the dreaded health condition altogether. Unfortunately, this decision meant that all of a sudden almost 1.6 million people who were otherwise “healthy” (since their blood sugar level was in the previous good range of 126-140) suddenly were declared diabetic. The same goes for measuring cholesterol. While the cholesterol level earlier was considered a risk at 300, over the years as research progressed it came down to 240 and eventually has settled at 200, thus bringing in almost 42 million people in the category of high cholesterol patients.

The other health problem which is seen to greatly impact the population is thyroid. Thyroid, too, was always a concern but never with the same gravity that it demands now. Hypothyroidism affects about 4-5% of the people across the globe and in India, one in ten adults go through it. Statistics state that women are much more at a risk and need to take precautions from early on. Such numbers further promote research and force the medical fraternity to take the results even more seriously. However, the more focus the problems get, the more the number of people seem to “suffer” from it.

Change in the Treatment Outlook

As a result, the treatment patterns also have considerably undergone a change. Everyone now stresses on preventive measures vis-à-vis earlier times when a health problem was treated as and when it occurred. It could be because of the fact that since there is so less time to spare, people prefer taking extra cautions to stay healthy rather than later spend time making visits to a doctor. From the doctors’ perspective, they would prefer avoiding an unwarranted health scare by prescribing medicines to counter a possible situation than having to deal with it at a later stage. It also implies monetary profits for the healthcare business sector. That makes the increasingly lowered threshold levels slightly difficult to accept. But for the common man, the risk seems too great compared to money spent.

Resultant Situation

More importantly, what this situation has resulted in is an over-cautious generation. Lowered ideal health range levels may make people take cognisance of their eating habits, exercise routines, and so on. But they also forget the fact that excessively worrying about a certain health aspect will not take away the problem entirely; while cholesterol is the primary cause of a heart attack it can also occur due to unhealthy lifestyles, smoking, etc. Another example is of the BMI (Body Mass Index). In the beginning, BMI was essentially used as a measure for body weight, and, thus, to basically remain in the healthy bracket. It helped in predicting cardiovascular diseases or nutritional competencies. Now, as with other health parameters expanding their scope, so has this simple figure. Health specialists have lately arrived at a Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR) which when used along with the BMI apparently better predicts more serious disorders such as diabetes, lipid problems, atherosclerosis, and so on.

In some ways, this sounds greatly helpful. Yet, it is also important to remember that over-diagnosis can be problematic as well. Imagine the number of medicines one consumes these days. Somewhere it makes the body immune to certain strains of those medicines and hence when the real need arises, it is doubtful if that medicine will really have a positive effect. Many times, people even ignore the side effects of taking extra medications, just to ward off a future possible concern. The number of treatments available is endless as well. It is thus up to the educated us to decide whether we will allow ourselves to be supposedly called “unhealthy” and where to stop in this vicious circle.