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The Doc Is … At Your Fingertips!

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WGEM) — Over the past year, computers, tablets and smartphones have become our primary means of information, education and connection.

And many people who weren’t comfortable with technology have gotten more experience with it.

Will it also provide a boost to healthcare information technology?

By computer … email ... Or text, the way we connect with our doctors and keep tabs on our personal health information is changing.

Although this technology is widely available, new research conducted just before the pandemic, indicates less than half of all patients are tapped in.

Indiana University health information researchers found 24 percent of patients would email their healthcare providers.

18 percent felt comfortable texting, and 31 percent reported using an electronic health messaging system platform.

“Some people don't know about it. Some people know that it exists but are not comfortable yet using it. So, there is definitely room for improvement,” explained Joy L. Lee, PhD, research scientist at the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University.

Using healthcare platforms can reduce office visits and make it easier for patients to review test results.

These portals require patients to set up an account and a password, but researchers say there’s a benefit to having a physician’s instructions at your fingertips.

“Some early studies suggest that it can have an impact on patient outcomes. In particular, patients with chronic disease or diabetes have seen improved outcomes,” illustrated David Haggstrom, MD, research scientist at the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University.

The researchers say patients need to confirm their communication preferences with their providers.

Some doctors are quick to respond to text or email, while others may unintentionally leave you unread.

If you are worried about your health information staying private—and ten percent of the patients surveyed are — the experts say your best bet is to use your healthcare provider’s online patient portal.

While the researchers studied a large sample of Indiana patients, they say the results mirror national attitudes toward technology and healthcare.

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Don Dwyer

Don Dwyer is a Morning Anchor/Reporter at WGEM.

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