How do you think products such as NextMD and Patient Centered Home help with health literacy?Let's look at NextMD. This program, moving into the future, is used in conjunction with EMR. These two...

How do you think products such as NextMD and Patient Centered Home help with health literacy?

Let's look at NextMD. This program, moving into the future, is used in conjunction with EMR. These two products open the availability of access to health, as well as give patients opportunities to increase communication with their providers. Additionally, providers are able to "email" (via patient portals due to HIPPA) information on various things. There is a cost to the providers for these programs, but the benefit to the patients is great. 

Feedback? Is this something that will improve health literacy and communication? Explain.

Expert Answers
ncchemist eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Electronic-based Internet interaction between patients and health care providers is the next logical step in health care delivery for a changing world.  For an industry that depends on cutting edge research and technology to discover new treatments, the health care industry is surprisingly resistant to change in terms of the day to day operations of health care providers and the methods of health care delivery.  Electronic medical records (replacing reams of filed papers sitting on shelves) have only recently become a real focus of attention for the industry.

The Internet has changed both the delivery and access to information, including health care information.  First,  websites like WebMD were created to house a massive amount of impartial medical information and deliver it to the public for free (the website earns income through paid advertising).  But access to this type of information tends to feed many people's hypochondriac tendencies, letting them fret over illnesses and diseases that are most likely not relevant to them.  It's a situation of information without experience.  Lots of medical information is available to the public, but accurate interpretation of that information requires a certain amount of experience, of which the vast majority of people do not possess.

Products such as NextMD are the next logical step in the chain.  They combine information with the experience of a trained and licensed medical doctor.  People will no longer feel the tendency to self-diagnose if a doctor's advice is readily available without major hassle and expense.  This improves both health care literacy (more specifically improving the accuracy of literacy) and communication.  It also is a logical step in improving affordable access to health care for an ever expanding population.  In light of the recent Affordable Care Act (a law designed to increase people's access to quality health care), providers are going to need to find new, more efficient ways to deliver health care to consumers (patients) other than simply making an in-office appointment weeks in advance like we have been for decades.  Products like NextMD are a more efficient and cost effective way to deliver non-emergency health care to more and more people at a reasonable price.

As we have seen with the recent unsuccessful website launch, technology and information security are a primary concern with Internet-based health care products.  It is important to address these concerns in advance and up front (and laws like HIPPA help keep patient information private and secure) in the implementation of this next generation of health care delivery products.