Northwest Health Spring 2011

In My View

Tech Tools Help Manage Health, Not Just Health Care

Technology is changing the way our health care is delivered.

Go to: Northwest Health Index

Scott ArmstrongOn a recent cross-country flight I was knocking off my "to do"list, somewhere over Minnesota or South Dakota. Since most airlines now offer Internet access, I took a moment to send a secure e-mail to my doctor.

I'm still a little stunned that this is possible. Technology has changed so many aspects of our lives — and it's changing the way our health care is delivered. The new tools are cool — there are "apps" you can download to your phone that allow you to assess your health risks, monitor your weight, and much more.

Some of these remarkable tools help save lives. Others allow us to be constantly engaged with our health. When I sent that secure e-mail to my family doctor, for instance, he responded by mentioning my health goals outlined in my electronic medical record, and he also asked about a pain in my foot I've had from running that he wants to do something about. Even at 30,000 feet in the air, he was helping me manage my health.

Because we integrate health care and coverage at Group Health, we've always been able to pay attention to managing members' health — not just managing their care or coverage. That focus is one reason we reach out to you about important screenings, such as mammograms. And why we care about things like vaccination rates, since the overall health of our communities also matters to us. It's why we promote active, healthy lifestyles by sponsoring a variety of events.

Of course, managing health care also happens in the doctor's office. I'm reassured to know that when I visit the doctor — whether in one of our clinics or Urgent Care Centers — everyone involved in my care has access to my complete health history via electronic medical records. The quality of decisions about your health care skyrockets when those caring for you can access everything from recent test results to what you discussed during your last doctor's visit.

It's all about delivering great health care — and the tools you need to be your best wherever you are. Even if that's 30,000 feet in the air.

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