Every day, you can find articles about amazing innovations in healthcare. Prosthetic technology is improving rapidly, allowing people with non-functioning limbs and organs movement and physical function never before thought possible. Speech technology is allowing non-verbal people to communicate effectively and efficiently.
But still, every day you can also find stories of people whose health conditions were misdiagnosed and mistreated because doctors ignored their symptoms and blamed their disabilities instead of looking for underlying causes. Are these stories indicative that we still have work to do in finding new solutions for healthcare accessibility? Or do the tools already exist, but are not being used?
Changes in Healthcare Training
Today’s healthcare professionals have more data than ever from which to pull. They have more resources to treat patients, and better technology to diagnose illnesses. Technology is allowing more remote access to medication and medical advice. Patient’s healthcare data is available more readily and can be verified and analyzed more easily than in past years.
Tomorrow’s nurses are being trained for older populations and those with mobility challenges. More healthcare is being administered in home-based situations.They are learning to meet people where they’re at and take their life and medical histories into account. This patient-based movement is not new, but it is much more human-focused than previous “best practices” in the medical field as recent as the 20th century.
One major problem when it comes to accessibility in healthcare is the failure to believe patients.When someone lives with a chronic condition, they have often heard the same medical advice over and over again. When they’re given a suggestion that hasn’t worked for them in the past, they should be believed and asked what their experience was, not told that they probably didn’t implement the treatment correctly.
This is why it’s important for medical professionals to be able to gauge the health literacy of patients. They must be able to determine when a patient has been given misinformation, and when the patient’s experience simply runs contrary to accepted norms. In the latter case, the patient’s experience should always be taken seriously and their ongoing treatment plan should be adjusted accordingly.
Technology and medical advancements have solved a lot of accessibility issues in healthcare already. Do you think the remaining changes needed are behavioral on the behalf of doctors, or can even more scientific advances be made to improve healthcare access for people of all medical conditions?
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