Telemedicine has been lauded for its ability to bring specialized medical care to isolated communities, but physical distance isn’t the only care gap plaguing healthcare today. No, from lack of insurance to language barriers, certain patients have a harder time obtaining necessary care. Luckily, improved technology and data-driven treatment are steadily eliminating the barriers that define modern medicine.
Identifying Vulnerable Communities
Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries are among the most vulnerable patients in our healthcare system, and the programs are also sources of valuable health data. That data serves as the foundation of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Accountable Health Communities Model.
Through the AHCM, government agencies can monitor how local social needs, such as unstable housing or lack of nutritious food, connect with healthcare outcomes, with the ultimate goal of reducing costs. Though there are only 32 participating communities at present, streamlined data collection is well-positioned positioned to help improve patient care across the country. In the future, this data could help determine what communities can benefit from telemedicine services, as well as narrowing which preventative measures make the greatest difference in patient outcomes.
Care Sans Insurance
Under the ACA, all Americans are required to have insurance, either through their employer, a public program, or privately purchased through the marketplace. But just because insurance is required doesn’t mean that everyone has coverage – or even that they can afford it. Instead, many Americans choose to opt out of the insurance market and hope for the best, that no one gets sick.
Of course, many of these uninsured individuals end up receiving care through urgent care centers, ERs, or by paying out of pocket, but all of these pathways can prove to be hardships. That’s where Slingshot Health comes in. Slingshot Health is a new healthcare platform that connects patients directly with local doctors, and patients get to set the price they’d like to pay for their care. When patients know how much care will cost before they arrive at the office, they’re more likely to pursue treatment when necessary.
Interpretation And Understanding
Healthcare organizations receiving federal funds are required to provide translation services for patients, but in practice, these services are lacking, provided by phone or family members who don’t understand the nuances of medical language.
One alternative? Using apps to connect patients with interpreters in real time. Right now, many doctors rely on pocket translators equipped with common medical terms to elicit information from patients, but these programs lack the necessary nuance and accuracy to provide equitable treatment. By using apps with a video element for translation, it will also be easier for doctors to provide written information, use gestures, and supply other added context to help all parties understand patient complaints and treatment options.
Most doctors today don’t feel equipped to respond to patients’ social needs, but healthcare doesn’t have to replicate social inequality. With the aid of technology and a more robust concept of care, however, doctors can offer the necessary holistic supports to their patients. Health isn’t only about the body – technology allows doctors to see the bigger picture.