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Contributing Writer · Jan 28, 2011

Being Sick in a Digital Age: EMRs,Telemedicine and Virtual Consultations

Last week, I was ill. I was coughing, sweating, aching, spinning, you name it. With a whole mess of sickness flowing through my immune system, I had little to no energy left to be my ol’ self. I haven’t been this sick in a long time and haven’t taken into account how thankful I am to be living in a digital age.

Not so long ago, when you were sick you had to see your doctor at first sign of every weird symptom, wait in the germy waiting room and fill out a ton of forms while you are trying not to cough or sneeze on the person next to you. Sitting in the waiting room filling out forms is agony: feeling ill and having to sit next to others who feel the same way, coughing and touching everything you have to touch, can be draining. It takes a lot of energy just to get yourself to the doctor’s office let alone keep your eyes open while you wait.

Nowadays, you can go to WebMD or even consult with your doctor via Skype. Medical providers across the nation are switching things up, making it easier for them to communicate without having to see patients face to face, or in my case, face to annoying blue surgical mask.

My doctor uses an electronic health record. She securely messages me right away and e-prescribes me medicine so I don’t have to leave my quarantined room. My medicine is ready faster than the time it takes to tie my shoe laces and I don’t have to consult with my doctor to check my lab results, I simply log on to my PHR and there they are. Being sick has never been easier thanks in part to health IT and to doctors who are ditching the stuffy waiting rooms and stacks of paper charts for electronic health records and digital appointments.

My doc isn’t the only one taking advantage of the power of technology. The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced that it will fund over 40 telemedicine projects to increase medical access to those living in rural areas. Using EMRs and video conferencing, they will provide over a million households with broadband medical access. Whether you’re way out in the boonies or too sick to get out of your comfy bed, more and more people are becoming receptive to the idea of visiting their doctors through the cloud.

According to a recent survey by the marketing firm Euro ESCG, 78 percent of those surveyed said they would give “virtual visits” a try and half of them said they’re open to using mobile applications to run tests and check-ups at home. Let’s face it, being sick sucks, but nowadays technology has made it a little easier to be in and out, either physically or virtually.

As a patient, I saw first-hand how important electronic medical records are. I literally stepped into the doctor’s office empty-handed and came out empty-handed. No more prescription papers (which I always loose), no more updating your information packets, no more waste. As terrible as it is to be sick, it’s awesome to be sick in a digital age.

Shea Steinberg
Jr. Social Media Specialist
Practice Fusion EHR