Digital health gives greater access to experts and makes medicine more precise and personalized. Sponsored by United Healthcare.

SEATTLE — Digital health is gaining in popularity not just because of emerging technologies, but also due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients are able to access information, monitor their health, and complete a doctor’s visit through their smartphones or computers. 

“One of the main goals of digital health is for patients to access healthcare and information at any time, 24/7,” said Dr. Patricia Auerbach, Chief Medical Officer of UnitedHealthcare of Washington. “This allows patients to take better charge of their health and allows their providers to stay connected to them, even outside of the office and hospital.”

Telehealth gives healthcare providers the ability to evaluate patients without potential exposure to risks. It was mostly used before COVID-19 for minor issues, like allergies, rashes, or cold symptoms. Now telehealth is being used for mental and behavioral health visits, routine care, and even complex issues. 

“With the winter coming and flu and COVID, telehealth is really a good first step if someone has questions about COVID or the flu,” Dr. Auerbach said.

A provider can discuss symptoms with you and may direct you to a safe facility for further care or a community testing site. In some cases, further in-person testing may be necessary, but a telehealth visit can start the process. To identify what resources are available to you through telehealth, check with your physician, insurance plan, or employer.

UnitedHealthcare has seen a significant increase in telehealth visits this year. Studies say among telehealth users broadly, 70% of patients said they’d likely use the resources again and more than 80% said that they had their health issue resolved in their first visit. Telehealth is generally more affordable as well, with little out-of-pocket expense.  

Wearable technology is also increasing in popularity, include smartwatches and biometric monitors. Patients can also wear patches, so providers can monitor their health from afar for conditions like congestive heart failure and diabetes. 

“It’s an exciting field and the technology only continues to advance and get much more sophisticated,” Dr. Auerbach said.

Technology is even making tests like colonoscopies easier. Ingestible sensors are now an option to complete the procedure. As technology continues to emerge, new options will continue to become available to patients.

Sponsored by United Healthcare.  Segment Producer Suzie Wiley.  Watch New Day Northwest 11 AM weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com.  

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