Health management- from a patient’s perspective

By Sanjana Rao, Ph.D.

2020 made the whole world come to a standstill and everyone was forced to acknowledge the importance of health. The pandemic has taken a toll on all of us and our families whether we were infected or not. With physical distances being amplified and families separated, everyone has realized the impact a submicroscopic organism can have on one’s life.

In such a scenario, how important is health management? One important component of health management is managing one's medical records. What constitutes a comprehensive health record? A comprehensive health record includes documenting the patient’s present illness, personal and family medical history, what medicines they consume, potential drug-drug interactions socio-economic factors, dietary history, allergic history as well as their up-to-date vaccination records.

Managing our health records and tracking our symptoms are helpful for both patient and physician. The recording of one’s medical history is critical for the doctor to make a proper diagnosis. According to Dr. TR Gopalan an experienced general surgeon, “Almost 85% of the clinical diagnosis is made on a good history and a physical exam. Another 10% of the diagnosis can be made by laboratory investigations, etc.” More often that not, a good medical history can make the difference between life and death

Studies have shown that patients with chronic conditions spend over 5000 hours a year deciding what to eat or drink, making lifestyle changes, deciding whether to take a prescribed medicine, exercising etc. By empowering them with data, technology and education on how to use the data, these hours can be reduced, patient satisfaction can be improved not to mention the positive impact it will have on clinical outcomes and reduction in the cost of treatment.

When we interviewed Indu Venkatramani, who is fighting a chronic lifestyle disease like diabetes. We heard that she monitors her blood glucose levels constantly and the data that she gets helps her manage her illness efficiently. She is a strong believer of people advocating for themselves in their health journeys.

By giving patients access to their own data and the physicians clinical notes, adherence to medication can also be improved. Taking your medicine as prescribed or medication adherence is important for managing chronic conditions, treating acute conditions, and overall long-term health and well-being. There was a positive correlation between how a patient understands their condition and completes their course of medication.

All these steps contribute to improving the communication between a physician and a patient in the short time that they interact, in turn making best health decisions for the patient. As Dr. Gopalan says, “This is where technology like digital apps could play a major role in the future for all stakeholders”.

That's some food for thought. Isn't it ?


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