In this Author Spotlight, we spoke to author Nancy B. Finn, M.Ed. Her book e-Patients Live Longer: Managing Healthcare Using Technology is an in-depth look at how digital technologies can better your healthcare experience. The book uses anecdotal stories from real-life situations, along with hard data, and interviews from experts, to make this a comprehensive guide to deploying digital technology in health, essential to 21st century patients.
Learn from the author all about the behind-the-scenes work on the book and why this topic is important.
Name: Nancy B. Finn
Hometown: Newton, Massachusetts
What made you want to write your book?
I worked for several years in corporate settings in positions related to communication and digital communication technology. When I retired, I wanted to write a book on how digital communication has changed the way people live and work. I did hundreds of interviews and a review of the data I had collected indicated to me that digital communication in healthcare was exciting and virtually changed the way that every patient (and we are all patients at one time or another) affected the way we interacted with the healthcare system. I felt that this book focused on how simple digital tools that we all use every day could impact how we manage and monitor our health for better outcomes, taking into consideration all the factors that impact that. Thus, this book evolved.
How long did it take you to write your book?
This book is an updated, republished version of the original e-Patients Live Longer publication that was completed in 2011. It took me three years to write the original version with all the interviews and information gathering required. The new updated version of the book published in May 2023, took me one year to update so that it would very timely because it includes a long new section on lessons learned from COVID that are critically important to the way patients interact with the healthcare system.
How does this book relate to your career path?
I wrote this book to leverage the expertise I had gained in all my years in the corporate world and a way to leave behind a legacy that would be of value to people. I am no longer building a career per se.
What was the research process like for this book?
As I mentioned the research involved hundreds of interviews with healthcare professionals and with patients who had interesting experiences to relate and appear in the book as anecdotal stories (specific original names were not used) that illustrate just what it is like to, for example, to engage in an in-person visit with a physician or a telemedicine visit for physical therapy, speech therapy, rehabilitation therapy or just an ordinary visit with a doctor.
In short, how did the COVID-19 pandemic change telemedicine?
Part of the value of this book is that it addresses how COVID changed the way people view health. The average citizen, particularly those between the ages of 30 and 70, does not think about health or health issues until they are forced to, due to an illness. COVID changed all that because it affected all of us, by changing the rules of living, working, enjoying entertainment, etc. Suddenly people had to worry about their health and the health of their family and friends. Every person was touched by the pandemic in one way or another.
So, I made sure that e-Patients Live Longer addressed ways that individuals could take charge of their health, by providing tips and suggestions about how to communicate with a healthcare provider, how to use telehealth to your advantage, how to be more diligent about the ways to choose a health plan that would pay for healthcare, how to find the best health resources on the web etc. This version of the book was written for a post-pandemic health system and provides advice on how every patient must be empowered to interact with this system more efficiently and effectively to improve their outcomes.
Were any of your presumptions about telemedicine challenged by your research?
Telemedicine played a vital role during the COVID years and Medicare changed the rules and expanded who could use telemedicine, where and how, for both physicians and patients, regarding reimbursement. I discuss that in the book in detail. My assumption that telehealth would be used extensively by physician practices, during COVID, proved to be correct and there were many more e-visits experienced by patients throughout the country. That practice can and should remain in place, although there is a question as to how it will work in the future and all hinges on payments for the providers.
In short, how can patients best use digital health resources to their advantage?
All smartphones today have health options that patients can deploy to help them understand their sleep patterns, their blood pressure and heart rate readings both during exercise and quiet times. Also, there are many apps to help with diet and nutrition and soon to be apps that will track blood sugar, and other vitals. I try to give the reader an understanding of the scope of what is available today and what is coming. This includes smartphone use, as well as iPad and other medical devices for monitoring and managing health, telehealth, web resources, healthcare 2050.
What further reading would you recommend on this topic?
At this point I recommend that patients learn more about genetics, artificial intelligence, robotics, and things like chatbots and the impact of these technologies in healthcare. There are many books on the market and others coming – too numerous to list. To learn about changes in the healthcare landscape and payment models I recommend An American Sickness by Elisabeth Rosenthal and Redefining Healthcare by Michael Porter; to learn about Genetics I recommend Genetics 101 by Beth Skwarecki, to learn about robotics and AI I recommend Rule of the Robots, How Artificial Intelligence will Transform Everything, by Martin Ford, to learn about Public Health I recommend How COVID Crashed the System by David Nash and Charles Wohlforth, AI: The New Revolution: A complete guide to understand and use Artificial Intelligence by Julien Martel.
Thank you, Nancy!
You can purchase e-Patients Live Longer at the Dorrance Bookstore.