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Using technology for good: SAIL board member shares health-related technology advances

By Staff | Jan 24, 2020

Monte Cole, left, talks with Shepherdstown Area Independent Living President Linda Spatig, following his speech on Friday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — While many people find the amount of technology being created a little overwhelming, Shepherdstown resident Monte Cole has sorted through the many different developments to find what he views to be the most practical health-related technology advances from the last few years.

On Friday afternoon, Cole shared his findings with his fellow Shepherdstown Area Independent Living members at SAIL’s monthly Brown Bag Luncheon in Trinity Episcopal Church’s fellowship hall.

“You should know that I’m an early adopter of technology, before I’m actually an understander of technology,” Cole said. “Technology can be helpful, but it can also be frustrating. We’ve all been there. But there’s also technological happiness that can happen, when people figure out how technology can benefit their lives.”

According to Cole, one way he has simplified his exploration of technology, is by sticking with reputable technology companies, such as Windows and Apple. He also relies on professionals in the coding and healthcare industry for advice on technology and applications that are useful. One such application, Cole said, saved his life.

“If you don’t get anything else today, get this — the American Red Cross First Aid App. This is the emerging app from the Red Cross, and it’s free,” Cole said. “Four years ago this March, I had some pain in my shoulder, so I checked the app and saw I was having a heart attack.”

The application gives treatment recommendations, based on the severity of users’ symptoms, and suggested Cole take aspirin and go to the emergency room. Cole took the aspirin and felt better, and then went to the doctor the next day.

“I recommend calling 911, but I went immediately to my doctor the next day, and they found I had artery blockage and added stents,” Cole said. “It’s a low-tech device, but helpful.”

Another application Cole encouraged his audience to use, is the permanent health application on Androids and iPhones, which allows users to put their information into their phone for emergency service providers to use.

“The EMS people told me they’d prefer using this feature, to using information that was written down in your wallet. They feel more comfortable looking in your phone than your wallet,” Cole said. “This app is free with no cost to you, that lets you be more prepared.”

Another way Cole has used technology to help him in his personal life, is through buying an Apple watch, which now has an EKG function. Cole also encouraged his audience to read medical newsletters, use insurance nurse hotlines and sign up for My Chart, an application used by hospital chains across the country, including Valley Health and WVU Medicine.

SAIL member Ted Walton agreed with Cole.

“I would recommend getting it. Any information they put in, is there on the chart,” Walton said, mentioning healthcare practitioners outside of his healthcare network are also able to send information to the healthcare network to be put into the chart, if asked.

Along with storing appointment information, My Chart also offers online billing payment, stores test results and allows patients to ask questions from their doctor outside of their appointment time.

“The primary are physician I have is very good on responding to my messages on My Chart,” Cole said. “It’s a pretty powerful program.”