Separating fact from fiction on the internet is more important now than it has ever been. Unfortunately, those of us who aren’t as tech savvy might end up mistaking an Onion article for the genuine article—literally and figuratively. While this is important for verifying the soundness of political or social arguments, few things are more important than protecting the health of your clients. Without further ado, here are six important technology tips for ensuring good health for your clients for years to come.
1. WebMD is not a substitute for visiting a doctor
WebMD is a legitimate site with a lot of useful tips for treating pre-existing health issues—but make no mistake: it is not a replacement for good old-fashioned face-to-face medical care. There are numerous reasons why people might first look to WebMD before visiting a doctor. For one thing, it’s undeniably convenient. After all, why drive to see your doctor and potentially pay a hefty chunk of change to find out you were just being a hypochondriac? Unfortunately, however, WebMD is notorious for misdiagnosing users and feeding their hypochondriacal tendencies. You should suggest that clients only use such sites as a guide and to treat them with a pinch of salt, and that they should always see a doctor if they have any health concerns.
- Use technology to educate clients
Astonishingly, one in ten parents hold the erroneous view that vaccines can cause autism; this simply isn’t true. However, rather than simply asserting this, a healthcare clinic should lay out the facts in a clear, coherent fashion. Most importantly, herd immunity is compromised when an insufficient amount of people are immunised. The Australian government recently cut welfare payments to people who refused to have their children immunised, and such drastic measures were needed due to many misinformed (or undereducated) parents not properly understanding the science and efficacy of immunisations.
- Install the most robust Wi-Fi network you can.
An emerging trend is the ever-growing data bandwidth that is handled by the data networks of healthcare facilities. Carrier-grade Wi-Fi and wireless LAN is essential for keeping healthcare facilities on the cutting edge of technology. Facilities that lag behind will often face a multitude of issues, including slowed network speeds, unreliable database searches, and even problems with internal communication between staff. It is no longer acceptable for large healthcare clinics to make do with stock-standard Wi-Fi routers; in fact, sticking with outdated technology can actually put your clients’ health at risk!
- Apps, apps, apps!
Ever since Apple introduced the App Store back in 2008, it doesn’t seem like we can go a day without loading up some app or another to do our day-to-day tasks. In the healthcare sector, apps are playing a serious role across a range of specialties. There are now apps that use an artificial neural network to diagnose cancer with an accuracy that rivals doctors. In fact, perhaps the most famous AI of all, IBM’s Watson, is better than most doctors at correctly diagnosing cancer. It pays to stay atop of the many healthcare-related apps that are helping patients stay healthy.
- Read up on respected forums and websites
Forums and news aggregators are a great way of staying abreast of medical breakthroughs, especially those that are technology-based. However, even traditional breakthroughs can be known about quicker than contemporary journals by means of subreddits such as /r/health. However, always be sure to assess sources for accuracy (including cross-referencing, if necessary), and always be sceptical of incredible claims. Besides forums, peer-reviewed medical journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) are excellent ways of keeping up to date on the latest health advances.
- Get to grips with biotechnology
Biotechnology is no longer considered sci-fi fantasy. Legions of so-called biohackers are using technology in an attempt to improve physical or cognitive ability. Whether it’s using dubious cognitive enhancers (also known as ‘nootropics’), or wetware hacking by means of trying to re-engineer the body’s genes or internal structure, there is no doubt that there has been a huge uptick in these areas over the past decade. As we get closer to the technological singularity, it is important that people working in the healthcare sector are fully aware of what early adopters of the technology are attempting. By better understanding the risks and potential advantages, you can use this knowledge to help inform curious clients.