The doctor will see you now. I mean, right now. No more fighting your way through traffic, paying $15 to park in a medical building, and sitting around in a crinkly paper gown. Though you may miss catching up on US Weekly while you’re in the waiting room, I’m guessing you won’t miss the stress that comes from making the appointment, anticipating the appointment and waiting for the appointment… wouldn’t it be great to just get it over with, like, immediately?
Receiving medical care from the comfort of your own couch, rather than in a doctor’s office, is just one of the ways technology is changing how we stay healthy. From electronic medical records to changes in policies, from new drugs to dazzling developments in imaging science, the healthcare field is embracing technology like never before. I found three of the newest ways technology can help you stay healthy, from making access to care easier, to streamlining your family’s medical needs. Cheers to your good health!
Talk It Out with e-Therapy
Stress, anxiety and depression are just a part of a busy, modern existence (not to mention part of the human condition). Escaping to the countryside and raising goats is appealing some days, but I bet even goatherds need to talk it out now and again. Alas, seeing a professional therapist can be costly, both in terms of money and time. Plus, some people just aren’t comfortable with the idea of going to seek help for mental health issues, no matter how socially acceptable it has become these days.
Talkspace is an app for iPhone and Android that provides affordable, confidential therapy via your phone, aiming to make therapy more accessible. The company has 200 professional, licensed therapists, with degrees in specialties such as social work, mental health counseling, and marriage and family therapy. You’ll be paired with a primary therapist who is a good fit for the issues you want to work on, whether that’s job stress or a relationship. You can choose an unlimited messaging plan, where you message your therapist whenever you want, or a video plan, or even a couples therapy plan.
If you want to get a sense of Talkspace, check out its public therapy forums, where people ask anonymous questions to the therapists and discuss their concerns, whether it’s an insecurity about how much they weigh, to their last nasty break-up, or the challenges of being a parent.
Master Your Medical Bills
This was the first year that healthcare spending will hit more than $10,000 per person, according to Forbes. Ouch. Tracking your healthcare spending isn’t just about being organized; it’s a essential if you want to track your spending and get reimbursed for every penny you can. But with bills and statements multiplying in your mailbox, and all of them using not-so-simple insurance language, it can be hard to suss out what is really going on with your reimbursements and payments. EOBs, co-insurance and what was that deductible again? Do I pay 20% or does my insurance pay 20%? It’s challenging to tell if bills are even accurate to begin with, unless you speak Medical Codese. Hey, sorry to hear you had 490 ICD-9-CM. (That’s bronchitis, for those of us who speak English.)
Enter CakeHealth, a free website that helps you organize and understand your healthcare. You log in, connect via your health insurance company’s website, and the CakeHealth website imports and categorizes everything for you. You can see what your care is actually costing you, track deductibles, and find ways to save. Getting insights into how much you are spending on medical care will come in particularly handy when you go to determine your HSA (Health Savings Account) or FSA (Flexible Spending Account) for the new year to gain a tax advantage. The site will even help you keep up with routine check-ups—making sure you’re getting your money’s worth on your plan, and keeping you healthier in the long run.
Scan Your Body
Tech allows us to monitor an amazing array of vital statistics, such as heart rate and blood oxygen level, via a fitness tracker. These stats used to be uncharted, unless we were in a nurse’s clutches, and now we take it for granted that we can check them as easily as we take a peek at today’s weather.
An early-stage company near Sunnyvale, CA, Scanadu, aims to make this kind of personal monitoring even more sophisticated. They’re working on a device called Scout, a little white disk that scans body temperature, respiratory rate, heart rate and blood pressure and can send the readings to a smart phone or to a doctor. It works with a companion app (for iPhone or Android), and in the future it can help check symptoms, diagnose ailments, and send alerts when it’s time for, say, a DTaP booster. The company is in the trial stages with Scout; since it is a medical device, it will need to be cleared by the FDA before consumers can use it. I was part of their Indiegogo campaign, so I’ve been one of the early testers and I can say, it’s really impressive. The company is also working on another device that can scan urine to monitor kidney, liver and metabolic health.
Not having to pee in a cup? Yet another tech bonus!
Is staying healthy a headache for you? Let me know in the comments.