Guest post by Emily Kittle, Digital Strategist
In today’s world, all of the information and resources we could want and more seem to be at the tip of our fingertips. However, when it comes to healthcare, seeking the appropriate treatment is all too often deprioritized due to the daily demands of life and the ease of being able to search symptoms online and self-diagnose. Similarly, many patients feel that their existing support systems quite often don’t have the resources and time to help them in their healthcare journey following diagnosis, surgery or injury.
Two of today’s sessions at SXSW – “Virtual Health: Is It Real or Just Fantasy” and “New Prescription: Mobilize Patients’ Communities” – highlighted local mobile health-focused initiatives in the state of Texas that are helping to improve patient access to care and support systems, resulting in improved quality of care and outcomes for patients.
In 2014, the Dallas Children’s Health System of Texas implemented a school-based telemedicine program with remote patient monitoring. The reason behind this program? It’s inevitable that children will get sick at school, which can be disruptive to daily life – they have to miss class, parents have to leave work, last minute doctor’s appointments have to be scheduled. But through this telemedicine program, school nurses are provided with stethoscopes, ear, nose, throat and derma scopes, then connected with Children’s physicians for a virtual patient consultation.
Because of the mobile technology, Children’s physicians are able to diagnose common illnesses for children in school and send their prescriptions to a preferred pharmacy, ultimately eliminating the need for the child to leave the school for treatment or for mom and dad to spend valuable time and money on a doctor’s appointment or emergency room visit. Today, Children’s Health’s telemedicine program is one of the largest school-based telemedicine programs for kids in the country, with more than 57 schools across Dallas implementing the technology.
We were honored to participate in another session today that introduced us to Rallyhood, a collaborative platform that enables action-oriented communities. We heard from Rallyhood CEO Patti Rogers, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. While she had a tremendous support group throughout her cancer journey, she realized that there was a need for tools and resources to bring people together around a common purpose – and that’s why Rallyhood was born.
Recognizing this need, Patti partnered with Seton Medical Center Austin to launch this platform. Now, people can use Rallyhood to stay connected through features such as calendars, file sharing, photo exchanges and message boards. The panelists reiterated that “You can’t do cancer alone” – support groups are vital, and technology is extremely important in connecting those dots.
“If you are connected and uplifted by the people around you, you are more likely to have endorphins to help you get well. A community and support group can make the difference in whether you get well or return to the hospital.” – Patti Rogers, founder and CEO of Rallyhood