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Orthopedic Apps -- Reaching Patients Where They Live

Posted by Michael Greiwe, MD | May 26, 2018 |
Michael Greiwe, MD

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A decade ago did you envision our collective fascination with the handheld digital device? The chances are that most physicians were too busy keeping up with the latest drug interactions to consider how today’s smartphone would affect the medical practice of tomorrow. Digital devices have reached the point of obsession; have you noticed how many patients have a death grip on their phones even as you’re conducting an exam?

The statistics show that mobile use continues to increase; in 2017 more than 200 million people picked up their first smartphone to add to a worldwide total of 5.135 billion mobile phones operating every day. Your patients now spend an average of 87 hours per month browsing their smartphone – and that usage is increasing. These are statistics that anyone concerned with future consumer trends and the impact on their practice should be aware of.

But is there a way for the orthopedic medical practice to make use of these trends? How can ortho practices adapt their services to reach these patients where they live – on their phones? Are their practice benefits that come from the use of telemedicine orthopedic apps?

Orthopedic Apps and Your Practice

“According to trend watchers, the message for businesses and marketers this year is: go mobile or go home. The focus of 2018 will be to cater to the exponential growth of consumers who now use smart phones and/or tablets as their first – and many times only – device.”
BiznessApps

As we write this, more than half the world’s population is online. The stats show that in 2017 almost a quarter billion people came online for the first time. The numbers continue to trend upwards by more than 20% year after year. In 2018 the amount of time we’re spending online is also increasing, and much of that surfing is conducted from a phone or tablet.

Before you completely discount technology to digitally-enable your practice, remember that orthopedic surgeons have been making use of mobile apps for years to support their clinical work. Consider this recommendation from iMedicalApps:

The ability to access clinical knowledge on the go or explain various pathologies to patients whilst utilizing a range of media has the potential to significantly improve clinical practice.

A couple of years ago Becker’s Spine Review named some of the “trendy” apps for orthopedists. From a phone app that lists orthopedic conferences to a CPT code lookup, these tools continue to help the busy orthopedist work smarter and faster.

Why should an orthopedist or any other provider in a small to mid-sized practice care about these trends? The answer is because your future patients care – a lot.

The good news is that there is a way to capitalize on our digital device obsessions by using the technology to our advantage.

But how can these applications, which have proven to be so useful in the field, be used to improve the relationship with patients, cut costs, and increase volumes in the orthopedic practice?

It turns out that the best time-tested ortho apps are housed within a technology that has been evolving for the past three decades.

Telemedicine as an Orthopedic App

Telemedicine in the form of an orthopedic app is becoming a global disrupter in the medical practice – and it’s coming at not a moment too soon.

That’s because millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, are reshaping healthcare. Healthcare IT News shared some of the generational differences between baby boomers, gen Xers, and millennials and it probably doesn’t come as a surprise to note that the upcoming 20-somethings not only prefer their healthcare in the form of the remote visit – they’re demanding it.

Demographic surveys tell us that faster service, less waiting, and lower prices are important not only to millennials but even to time-strapped baby boomers. That’s why walk-in clinics have begun replacing the primary care practice, particularly with millennials and gen Xers.

Telemedicine in the form of a tablet, desktop, or phone app is about to respond to these trends by exploding into a $78.82 billion market by 2020. The Global Telemedicine Market Report states:

The healthcare industry is witnessing phenomenal changes. This is indicated by the increasing adoption of digital health platforms such as m-health, telehealth, EMR, and other wireless technologies. Today, digital health platforms are essential elements in every healthcare organization as they enable remote monitoring of patients, increase healthcare delivery efficiencies, improve access to electronic health information, and improve the quality of healthcare services along with cost reduction.

Capitalizing on Orthopedic Apps

While a telemedicine orthopedic app isn’t appropriate for every clinical workflow or every patient for that matter, there is enough evidence to show conclusively that there are tremendous benefits for both the practice and the patient.

While millennials are obviously the future face of your orthopedic practice, the statistics tell us that the majority of all patients would see their doctor via telemedicine. Even the Senior Journal reports that the Baby Boomer population is intrigued with telemedicine. Interestingly, the article, from 2015, predicted a shift in attitudes in favor of the remote doctor visit. That’s because the increasing demands of travel – especially if the patient has a painful orthopedic issue – make seeing a doctor in the comfort of the home environment a refreshingly pleasant experience.

Note cell phone usage was considerably less in 2015. Speaking of smartphones, if you’re worried that an elderly patient may not understand the technology, you shouldn’t. In the fall of 2017, a new study came out that showed baby boomers spent an average of 2.5 hours every day on their cell phone. While they may not be as quick to text their millennial son or daughter, they’re savvy enough to pick out an emoji – or do anything else on their phones.

But are orthopedic physicians paying attention?

Becker’s Spine suggests that many of the barriers to telemedicine are dropping away, which will enable even the smallest orthopedic practice to make use of a service like OrthoLive.

Isn’t it time to engage your patients – both young and old -- in ways that will ensure your future success? Talk with OrthoLive about our orthopedic app and telemedicine service. Click here to start the conversation.

Topics: "telemedicine", orthopedic practice, e-health, mobile health

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