Archive for July, 2013

Three Key Strategies to Drive Better Patient Care

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

Stopwatch1During 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.

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The Nature of Superpowers

I recently spent two hours in a conference room with some really smart people and three accomplished musicians from a young, innovative Chicago-based chamber orchestra called Fifth House Ensemble. We talked about the nature of the professional musician and what it takes to become world class.

The leader of Fifth House suggested that the world’s best musicians have four “superpowers” in common:

Self Knowledge

“I picked this path, and I’m committed to it.”Superpowers

Professional musician generally choose their artistic path as early as four years old. Most of the rest of us are not picking our careers when we’re that young, but the concept is still very relevant. Do we know exactly who we are, what career we’re creating, and what kind of impact we’re having in the world?

2) Self-Discipline

Musicians all over the world practice two to six hours a day every day just to maintain their skill. More practice time when they are learning a new technique or piece of music. And they do this from the time they’re four years old. It’s really good for creating muscle memory, but it does require extraordinary self-discipline to spend hours every day in a solitary practice room. This single-mindedness begins to affect how they observe and experience the world, putting much of what they see and hear in terms of music and rhythm, tone and emotion.

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