Treatment Online: For patients who dread going to the doctor, the ability to access routine healthcare services from home is a godsend. You don’t have to check in and wait in hopes you’re taken to an exam room at your scheduled appointment time. There’s also more privacy when collecting samples for lab tests. Plus you don’t have to worry about answering embarrassing questions.
Patients, healthcare providers, and companies are seeking out and delivering online treatments with currently available technology. But medical practitioners, insurance providers, and businesses aren’t stopping there. They’re looking at ways to expand upon the tech that’s already in use and develop new forms of virtual healthcare. Here’s an overview of four ways tech is making it easier to skip the doctor’s office and get treated online.
1. STI Testing and Treatment
Though they are nothing to feel ashamed about, STIs can be a sensitive subject for many. This leads to hesitation about seeing a doctor or avoidance of testing and treatment altogether. But what if there was a way to test yourself for common sexually transmitted infections and receive treatment at home? Web-based platforms make it possible for patients to get STI tests kits and even prescriptions for genital herpes treatment.
With complete privacy and plain packaging, patients can take care of their health discreetly. Working with an online network of pharmacies and medical advisors reduces feelings of anxiety and discomfort for some. However, sexually transmitted infections are quite common, and doctors are trained to handle patients with compassion and discretion, even virtually.
According to the CDC, one in five people has an STI. In 2018, 93% of new infections were linked to chlamydia, genital herpes, trichomoniasis, and the hepatitis B virus. These figures do not include the portion of the population that is unaware they have an STI. Since at-home treatment and testing remove the stigma associated with STIs, technology can lead to more patients knowing their status. As a result, fewer infections will remain untreated.
2. Health Apps and Wearables
Wearable devices that use trackers and sensors are changing the way individuals manage their health outside of the doctor’s office. Many of these devices sync collected data with a mobile app so you can monitor metrics like sleep quality. The data from wearables can also track physical exercise, weight, and heart rate. When combined with an app’s tools that monitor nutrition and stress, you’ll have access to informed, preventative healthcare anywhere.
In most cases, it’s no longer necessary to consult a doctor for advice and information about nutrition and weight loss. You simply input your current height, weight, and goals into an app. The app calculates how many calories you should consume each day, along with ideal percentages of fat, protein, and carbs.
An app and wearable remind you when it’s time to engage in physical activity and whether you’ve met your goals. You can also get access to customizable workouts, community challenges, stress management tools, and reports and analytics. Apps can also sync with other devices (such as scales) that measure weight and body fat percentage. With all this data, you get a clearer picture of where your health stands and what you need to address.
3. Genetic Testing
At-home genetic testing takes some of the guesswork out of knowing which lifestyle behaviors to modify and avoid. These tests and online reporting features show you the health conditions you’re more likely to develop based on your DNA. These include conditions like diabetes, cancer, and celiac disease. Based on a genetic sample, you can also find out how your body reacts to alcohol and sun exposure.
Some at-home genetic test kits can provide additional insights, such as your predetermined or likely weight. You can learn how your genes determine your body’s muscle mass percentage so you won’t pursue unrealistic fitness goals. With genetic reports, you can also see whether your DNA predisposes you to weigh more than average. Armed with this data, you’ll have a better understanding of how to measure your progress with exercise and nutrition.
Some people also use online DNA testing to find out more about their ancestry, including traits they’ve inherited. With the results, they’ll find out why they dislike certain foods according to how their DNA influences taste and smell. Random insights, such as the way genes control musical ability and noise sensitivities, provide validation that some preferences are predetermined.
The practice of nanomedicine is still evolving, but it has the potential to revolutionize common diagnostic tests. Nanomedicine also promises to radically change surgical practices and typically invasive treatments for diseases. Nanotechnology encompasses devices like smart or electronic pills. It may sound like a science-fiction movie, but this is real life.
Contained within some of these pills are tiny cameras that can transmit data and images back to doctors. Instead of having to go under anesthesia for procedures like a colonoscopy, you can swallow a smart pill. The images the pill captures give doctors the information they need to determine if you have a digestive disorder. Based on the images, healthcare professionals can also decide if you need further testing or have a heightened cancer risk.
Some electronic pills can be controlled remotely through wireless or Bluetooth technology. Using a smartphone app or web-based portal, doctors can gather diagnostic data and release targeted drug treatments. Everything from seasonal allergies, infections, and chronic conditions like diabetes may soon be treated using nanotechnology. Smart or electronic pills could also help doctors perform biopsies and other surgical procedures without inconveniencing patients.
Technology has already changed the way you can manage your health. With access to information and tools once limited to medical practitioners, it’s possible to make informed and proactive lifestyle modifications. Web-based portals, smartphone apps, wearables, and at-home testing kits put the patient in charge of preventive medicine and treatments.
When shared, doctors can also use the information from these tools to make more personalized treatment recommendations. And emerging practices like nanomedicine may soon make some in-patient and invasive diagnostic procedures unnecessary. With technology, remote monitoring and treatment of conditions could become as common as pharmacies on every corner.
Also Read: How to Recover Mentally After an Accident
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