Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pilot program using technology to help medical professionals better serve rural patients

Harrington Family Health Center, which is located in rural Washington County, Maine, (Wikipedia map) and treats some of the state’s poorest and most at-risk populations for chronic health conditions, is part of a pilot program that uses technology to better serve patients, Whit Richardson reports for the Portland Press Herald.

Since July, nurses and physicians at the center have been using tablet computers with apps that "include searchable medical encyclopedias, a dosage calculator, a pill identifier and a symptom checker, which allows a nurse to input symptoms and immediately get a list of potential conditions," Richardson writes. "It also has an app that allows a health care provider to enter a patient’s medications and immediately get information on how those drugs interact and potentially dangerous combinations."

Lee Humphrey, CEO of the health center, which last year treated 3,500 patients over 14,000 visits, told Richardson that the area "has Maine’s poorest population and many of our people have the highest instances of diabetes, heart disease and cancer in the state. We also have the highest early death rate in the state. This device is one more tool to give providers. It’s like having an electronic library at your fingertips.”

Tablets "were provided by Health eVillages, a not-for-profit initiative created by Donato Tramuto, CEO of Massachusetts-based Physicians Interactive, which develops medical-related mobile apps and other technology," Richardson writes. The program was originally created after the 2010 Haiti earthquakes and has since been used in East Africa and India, before it was used in the U.S. "on the Louisiana coast in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. And now Maine, which Tramuto calls home." (Herald photo: A screen grab of a library of options on the app)

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