When it comes to health technology and new mobile apps, we often jump right into a discussion about cool features and social media. But the real question should be impact. What positive impact are we having on patients and their physicians, the ultimate gatekeepers?
The bottom line for most physicians is efficiency: “How can I be more productive with the time I have with my patients given the clinical load I carry?” Therefore, a good place to start in any technology impact discussion is how to enhance the physician-patient interaction to make it better and more efficient.
There are three important activities that influence physician efficiency:
1) Precise diagnosis of ailments
2) Patient education support
3) After-care compliance and home monitoring
These are also three activities that can have a significant influence on patient outcomes.
All three of these are time-consuming but critical activities, and all of them can benefit greatly from technology.
1) Precise Diagnosis
During the typical 15-minute office visit, in addition to collecting as much medical and family history as possible, physicians will review a patient’s symptoms. Very often they’re listening for that random clue that might influence the diagnosis, something that maybe the patient hasn’t thought of or hasn’t remembered since the last office visit.
When a patient walks in a doctor’s office, particularly if they don’t have a caregiver with them, they often are stressed and very often forget or misread symptoms that might have happened at home. It’s kind of like when you take your car into the shop and suddenly that engine knock isn’t there anymore, and the garage guy rolls his eyes and tells you to bring it back when there is a real problem.
Technology can play a supportive role here by capturing a wide range of patient symptoms as they are experienced at home, at work or socializing with friends.
One solution to this challenge is an mHealth (mobile health) iPhone-based symptom tracker. A mobile app can capture relevant patient experience data and efficiently provide it to the physician to inform the diagnosis – information that the patient might not even remember or consider important. By providing additional diagnostic clues, a symptom tracker will enhance the conversation about health between the physician and patient.