Don’t be surprised to see your doctor consult his or her smart phone, notebook computer or iPad. It’s not for personal reasons — they’re likely checking out the latest news, consulting online resources, accessing electronic health records or looking up test results. In addition, there are thousands of applications available for doctors like recall or warning notices from health authorities, health care reference tools and even online versions of medical journals and research publications. Patients can download many of these tools too.
If this all sounds appealing, be forewarned: there’s a big difference between what’s out there and what’s actually being used. If you want to keep tabs on the latest tech, visit your province’s Ministry of Health website to see what technology plans are in the works and how the timeframe looks. Whether you’re in Canada or somewhere else, find out what e-tools and e-services are available through your doctor or medical clinic.
It’s going to take some time for new technology to become commonplace, but experts still warn that the latest tools don’t necessarily make for better doctors. Good communication, support when you need it (like being able to reach someone after hours) and a strong doctor-patient relationship are all important, whether the office is high tech or not.