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It feels like the smart phones have been with us forever. But when we take a look at its history, it has not actually been that much. You can see that the first so-called smart phone by IPM was actually a personal digital assistant (PDA) and it did not have any Wi-Fi connection, although it could fax, calculate, compress files etc. The year was 1994.

The Simon Personal Communicator shown in its charging base.

It wasn’t until the year 2000 that the smartphones could actually connect with an actual 3G network. This new technology came with high price tags and allowed people to teleconference via their phones. 

The year 2007 was the most influential for smartphone evolution, with the entrance of Steve Jobs and his team. With the introduction of the iPhone by Steve Jobs and the MacWorld team, this was the beginning of a new era, where people could use their mobile phones as a desktop and the touchscreen was the sleekest one yet. As Google’s answer to the iPhone we were introduced to the Android smartphones.

By 2020, after 13 years of our introduction to the iPhone, we now use smartphones as our primary communication device. Thus the role of mobile applications has gained importance as well as digital literacy. Bottom line is, the digital age is with rapid strides in every context, including the health industry.

With evolving technology comes products and services for people everywhere. As an example smart watches can detect atrial fibrillation which helps the user have more personalized and fast assessments. The “patients” become “people” which brings the transformed autonomy of the patient. 

Autonomy of the patient has been a sacred term to physicians for centuries which means that the patients have the right to be comprehensively informed and have their consent taken, as well as their decision for the medical procedures are the final say between the doctor and patient communication. What changes with the digital age is the fact that people can have medical information about any disease as well as they can assess their own health conditions before seeking medical counseling from physicians. The patients become people, by means of their passivity is taken from them as their wish-fulfillment.

Even though there are a lot of components for the shift on the “patient” characteristics, we can evaluate this tendency, to become more active in their health, as a positive outcome. This is mainly due to the fact that people who are actively interested about their health are more likely to make lifestyle changes and follow their doctors’ orders than those who keep their passivity in their health.

Besides the positive outcomes of the digitalization of health services, there are still disparities in access and guidance for those services. 

Smith and Magnani have presented an 18 point guide as a mandate for health care organizations who address and facilitate eHealth literacy. We are sharing those points from their review article2:

Digital Universal Precautions to promote eHealth.

1

Form a team 

Develop a multidisciplinary team of providers, designers, programmers, and patients.

2

Identify opportunities

Determine which systems of care can be improved with digital technology.

3

Make health literacy standard

Encourage development of material and tools in line with universal precautions.

4

Offer actionable content 

Write material that is clear, concise, and easy for patients to act on.

5

Assess readability 

Review materials to ensure they are accessible to those with limited literacy; avoid jargon such as procedural and medical terminology.

6

Promote intuitive design 

Create tools and material that are easy to navigate.

7

Enhance communication with varied media

Make materials available in video and audio format for those with limited general literacy.

8

Present information with

context

Ensure test results are given along with a health literate interpretation and solicit questions.

9

Provide access to additional information

Use links to related material to give autonomy and facilitate deeper understanding.

10

Use tailoring

Use patient details to tailor messages that are specific to their individual experience.

11

Focus on ease of use 

Minimize features that are work intensive or time consuming.

12

Determine access to technology

Identify patients’ available and preferred means of communication.

13

Provide means to access services

Make access sites available, such as kiosks, for patients who do not own a personal device.

14

Encourage patient participation

Advertise services or incentivize their use.

15

Offer technical support 

Designate employees to support patients using eHealth services.

16

Recommend helpful services

Promote the use of evidence-based applications that may offer benefit, such as fitness trackers or pill box apps.

17

Solicit patient feedback 

Encourage patients to evaluate services and suggest improvements.

18

Share the results 

Study interventions to determine efficacy to improve patient experience and care.

As FluAI and Yesil Science we aim to make digital health services accessible to everyone, and find our solid spots in this fast paced environment. You might have noticed that contrary to our other blog posts we have not started this post with a definition. This is mainly due to the fact that digital health has a lot of components that could be discussed, and this week we tried to give you a standpoint for this topic: Everything is moving too fast, and no one should be left behind!

Here is our selected song for the topic:

References:

  1. Shaffer, F. A., & Preziosi, P. (2019). Digital Health: Join the Movement. Nursing administration quarterly, 43(4), 351–353. https://doi.org/10.1097/NAQ.0000000000000371 
  2. Smith, B., & Magnani, J. W. (2019). New technologies, new disparities: The intersection of electronic health and digital health literacy. International Journal of Cardiology. doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2019.05.066 
  3. History of Smartphones – What Was the First Smartphone?: SimpleTexting. (2020, April 10). Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://simpletexting.com/where-have-we-come-since-the-first-smartphone/

Author

Elif Başak Alço

PM&CLINICAL TEAM

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