Saturday, February 21, 2015

An app that's the next chicken soup?

I'm wrapped in three blankets, wearing two pairs of socks and sipping tea – yes, I've got the bug – and am searching for ways to feel better. I Googled "how to feel better," and Wiki Answers came back with some great tips like having an old ice cream bucket near the bed (thankfully I haven't experienced that symptom) and canceling any plans for the day (fortunately Saturdays are pretty relaxed). 

It's difficult to imagine being sick without social media, the internet and websites like Webmd. My mom snapchatted hugs and and get-well wishes when she found out I wasn't feeling well, and Amazon Prime helped ease my bed-ridden boredom. 

Social media helps patients but has also changed the physician side of medicine. Physicians now have exclusive social networking sites like SERMO where they can chat with doctors, discuss different treatments and get second opinions. 

“I can speak freely because I am anonymous. I don't have to worry about my words getting back to a hospital administrator,” SERMO's website says. 

Social media has revolutionized how physicians practice. Before social media, physicians could only turn to colleagues for advice, which meant being fearful of asking certain questions or raising concerns because they could jeopardize their reputation or job. This isn't a problem with anonymous networking. SERMO also extols the power of "crowdsourcing,"or the idea that 30,000 doctors are better than a handful at solving medical problems. 

Technology may also bring house calls back – through apps. Telemedicine is quickly becoming a popular alternative to traditional visits to the doctor's office. With video chat, doctor's can diagnose disease without physically seeing patients, saving everyone time and money. Google is even testing a "talk with a doctor now" app that allows users, well, to talk with a doctor, and it's predicted that by 2018, 65 percent of interactions with healthcare providers will happen through mobile devices. 

Telemedicine could mean fewer trips to the doctor's office and less time with its depressing fish tank, outdated magazines, curmudgeonly receptionist and coughing snotty-nosed children. 

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