Smart medicine brings convenience, comfort to patients
Smart medicine is the future of medical advancement. Information technology, artificial intelligence, and big data are playing increasingly significant roles in health care, which tends to become more convenient and human-centered. This series on many sectors of the health industry is intended to demonstrate the role of advanced technology, intelligent systems, and inventions.
Smart medicine is not only used to enhance efficiency and support surgical procedures but also provide patients with more convenience and a compassionate experience.
"The purpose of digital and smart technology is to better serve patients, who can enjoy a better, more comfortable and safer service," said Li Duanshu from the Shanghai Cancer Center.
The consultation center of the hospital's pathology department is the best and busiest department in the field in the nation, with over 20,000 applications every year.
"Our reception is always crowded with patients and family members, who consult on various questions and have to come here several times to pay the bill, submit specimen and take reports. The multiple hospital visits is the biggest problem," explained Bi Rui from the pathology department.
To solve the problem, the department teamed up with the hospital's information technology center to work out a digital guidance on pathological consultation along with the paper version. A digital platform was set up to allow online checks of reports, bill payment and the diagnosis process.
"Patients and their families needn't visit the hospital repeatedly and all processes and information can be checked on their smartphones," Bi said.
With the nation's medical capability improving, cancer has gradually become a chronic disease. At the Shanghai Cancer Center, 71.3 percent of cancer patients survive for more than five years, the term means clinical recovery. Smart medicine is used to prolong the medical service "from at the hospital to outside the hospital."
"After being discharged, patients need follow-up visits, checks and management. As such, they have strong demand for online service," according to Dr Wang Yu, director of the center's neck surgery department.
"There are a significant number of thyroid cancer patients who survive for long. How to properly manage these patients after they leave the hospital and remind them to do follow-up checks in the hospital in time and offer them timely consultation and help online is our biggest concern."
Doctors developed an artificial intelligence-based system to set up a patients' database, offer online consultation, intelligent follow-up checks and arrange hospital-visit plans. Patients only need to upload their health check reports online, the AI system can do primary evaluation and offer suggestions with 95 percent accuracy, officials said.
"Those evaluated with problems will be advised to go in for further checks and diagnosis, while those without problem needn't come all the way to the hospital, which is especially good for patients from other provinces," Wang noted.
The center's Internet Hospital function has been expanded to cover the whole medical process of registration, consultation, check reservation, bill payment, drug prescription and delivery, patient management and education.
Apart from medical service, medics are also focusing on patients' mental status and offer psychological guidance and care, which is extremely cozy and supportive for cancer patients.
"Denial, anger, anxiety, fear and depression are common mental conditions after a person is diagnosed with cancer," said Dr Feng Wei, director of the hospital's newly-established psychological medicine department.
"These negative moods can result in mental disorders and even impact patients' life quality and treatment effects," Feng added. "With many patients resisting even a simple suggestion for psychological consultation, we have developed a program to offer guidance and a channel for patients to express themselves."
The "mental tree hole" program is an interactive section on the department's public WeChat account. Patients can leave words or messages and professional medics will respond within 48 hours.
"Our staff give answers and suggestions for each message. If they detect patients with risky or serious conditions, our team will guide them for offline consultation. If it is a hospitalized patient, we will visit him or her," Feng revealed.
For example, a young female patient said that she was under severe pressure and fear after doctors in her hometown suspected that she had breast cancer.
"I came to the Shanghai Cancer Center for further diagnosis and treatment the next day. After being hospitalized for surgery, I was very anxious and couldn't sleep," she said.
"On learning about the 'mental tree hole' program, I left my comments and feelings online and received a response quickly. Dr Feng Wei arranged offline service for me and gave me professional support and care. I feel relaxed a lot and my treatment is also very smooth. I am very grateful."