New technology can have a significant impact on the day-to-day experience of providers and patients.
The American Medical Informatics Association is hosting its 2021 Annual Symposium, and, during its virtual day last week, researchers presented multiple studies on how technology is impacting both groups.
Here’s a look at some of the findings:
Using VR to understand the challenges of home care
To study and better understand behaviors that affect health outcomes, the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) developed an immersive virtual reality tool to track participants as they engage in a common daily activity like food shopping. The tool simulates a typical grocery store and tests participants’ ability to follow low-sodium diets in the context of chronic illnesses like heart failure.
The benefit of using this technology, Denise Goldsmith, a nursing informatics consultant at NINR, explained during her panel, is the level of factors in the environment researchers could control. In fact, it would be difficult—if not impossible—to replicate in real life, she said.
Another appealing element is the fact that the study could be done remotely without being in the patient’s presence.
Participants were trained for a brief period beforehand on how to use the technology. Then, in the simulation, they were free to move about the grocery store, select food items, read nutrition labels and then check out at the cash register. At the end, each user received feedback on their food choices based on the total sodium tally.
“Using IVR in this way, we can observe real-time decision-making and activities of our users without needing to be present in their natural setting,” Goldsmith, who develops the clinical scenarios chosen for these studies at NINR, said.
The technology captures behaviors including frequency of label referencing and product comparisons and also tracks and plots movement activity throughout the virtual store. This helps researchers study cognitive patterns in home-care patients and potential challenges impacting the performance of such tasks.
The various self-care management scenarios NINR develops are identified by home-care nurses, according to its website.
Medical conditions dictate patients’ tech savviness
To explore whether certain medical conditions lend themselves to better telemedicine preparedness among seniors, Jorge Rodriguez-Fernandez, a clinical informatics fellow at the University of Illinois at Chicago, analyzed data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study on nearly 4,000 seniors 65 years and older.
He and his team defined telemedicine readiness as being able to contact a provider, handle medical insurance or get medical information all online.
There were two other categories, one for telemedicine physical unreadiness, and another for telemedicine technical unreadiness. The former was defined by a physical barrier preventing a patient from using telemedicine; the latter was defined by a patient not owning a proper device, not knowing how to use it or not having recent email, text or internet access.
Cancer patients by far exhibited the most telemedicine readiness, followed by those with hypertension and arthritis.
“For cancer, which was the most striking result, there is the theory of the cancer continuum,” Rodriguez-Fernandez explained during the panel. An oncologist treats not only their remission but also focuses on follow-up care and their long-term well-being. Drug manufacturers also increasingly support and engage with patients across the oncology spectrum through their entire care and recovery journey, he noted.
In terms of technical unreadiness, conditions that were most impacted included depression, anxiety, stroke and diabetes. In contrast to cancer patients, people …….