I recently attended a panel discussion centered on the patient experience. At this event, sponsored by New York City Health Business Leaders, leaders from the healthcare technology sector shared their perspectives on whether technological breakthroughs are helping to put the focus on patients and their experience with the healthcare system.

The truth is that sometimes, technology can be dehumanizing. The electronic medical record, which holds the promise to make your medical information shareable and available to your doctors wherever you happen to be receiving care, is a prime example. Where once a doctor’s visit was exclusively dependent on face-to-face communication, oftentimes today the doctor is focused on entering data into a computer during the appointment, reducing the amount of time spent engaging with you, the patient.

However, the panelists, who represented companies that are true healthcare innovators, were optimistic about the potential of technology to help make healthcare more personalized. Apps that can track your needs and “remember” information about you, provide you with education about your health and wellness, and enhance your access to healthcare providers and medications certainly help improve your experience as a patient.

Ultimately we all need to remember that healthcare is about people, not data and statistics, fancy diagnostic equipment or cool apps. The goal of everyone working as part of a healthcare team should be to ensure that each individual is living at their fullest potential, has access to preventive care when they are well and medical treatment when they are sick, and that care is affordable.

Whether technology furthers those goals or simply adds another layer of complexity to an already complex healthcare system remains to be seen. But like the panelists who shared their expertise recently, I’m optimistic that technology has tremendous potential to bring us closer to that ideal.

Patient Advocate Tip:

Whether you are a patient or a caregiver, I recommend that you regularly access your health portals. Ask your doctors if they have them. Many of the portals allow you to message your doctor and get a quick response.  It’s just another tool in accessing your best care (along with your trusty health notebook and copies of your past medical records of course). Questions? I’m here to help. Call me at (516) 584-2007 anytime!