While we have not quite reached Terminator status where AI and machines will take over the world, we have come to a place where technology that is connected to the internet is improving the ability for physicians to monitor, collect data, assess and proactively intervene to improve the patient care journey. A big part of this is the rise of Healthcare IoT.
Unless a person has Münchausen syndrome they will probably feel like the majority of the population who dread going to the doctor. Right or wrong, they may believe that a doctor or hospital visit means some form of pain or potentially bad news combined with long waits and more often than not, a rather unpleasant experience. These beliefs are directly related to perceptions of the patient care journey based on their previous experience. The good news is that can all change thanks to advances in Digital Medicine.
One size does not fit all in any industry, despite what the clothing industry would like you to believe. This is especially true when it comes to the healthcare industry and the myriad of healthcare provider types targeting specific patient care journeys from brain surgery and cancer treatment to chronic care and general wellness. More often than not, there is also a large overlap of need on the part of the patient to cross these categories and healthcare service providers.
Let’s face it, usually no one wants to be the first to try something new when it comes to healthcare. Certainly, there are a tremendous number of controls in place to protect us from untested medicines and medical procedures but now that technology is stepping to the forefront a few new questions come to light. Why should I look at these new Digital Medicine solutions and when is the right time to begin the adoption and implementation of a solution for my practice?
Doctors have been given out prescriptions since the dawn of medicine. Consider leaching and blood-letting in the dark ages to heroin, opium and aspirin in the 1800s and the smorgasbord of pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals today and you can only image where the concept of prescriptions will evolve next, especially now being firmly ensconced in the technology age.
It shouldn’t be surprising that when you are well and in proximity to sick people, the likelihood of you getting sick increases significantly. In fact, “the Journal of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology says well-child doctor appointments - like annual exams - result in more cases of flu-like symptoms within the next two weeks.” So why do we still go into clinics, hospitals and doctor’s offices when there are new ways to address walking diagnosis and ambulatory care?
From historical dramas and documentaries to science fiction fantasy, we have been bombarded with the images of healthcare through the ages. Whether you are an administrator, clinician or patient you have at some point appreciated the advances of modern medical science over its historic atrocities (does anyone remember leaching?). Edmund Burke is credited with saying “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it” and no truer words can be said for the history of healthcare from apothecary to science to technology and the rise of digital medicine.
Anyone old enough to remember the original Star Trek saw the potential for what technology could eventually do for healthcare the first time the tricorder was used by Dr. McCoy to assess and treat a wounded person. With the dawn of the technology age, the promise of digital healthcare grew but the timing of the reality of that digital healthcare promise is still slow in coming.
Physicians have been providing prescriptions since the beginning of history. From herbal remedies and leaching to modern day prescription medicines, the limited number of trained healthcare professionals have relied upon various methods to handle ever growing number of ambulatory patients. We are now moving into a new age of prescriptions because of COVID-19’s shelter-in-place requirements where clinicians may be prescribing new digital medicine apps to handle the remote care requirements of today.
It is no secret that healthcare is ripe to be reformed for the modern era. While billions of dollars in investments have been made in the administration of healthcare IT (EMR, ERP, CRM…), both the patient and provider experiences are hindered by fragmented point solutions. None of this has yielded an impact on the delivery of care and patient care still looks the same as it did in 1980. So, it is no surprise that we seem to be moving into the age of digital healthcare.
Age of Digital Health
As a citizen of the digital age, we have come to expect two-way communication digitally to most, if not all, of our daily personal and professional requirements. While email and the rise of mobile phone access has become ubiquitous, the availability of new apps has proliferated into areas that historically have been reserved for personal interactions. One of the most impact areas in these times of COVID-19 is the healthcare arena and more specifically, the rise of digital healthcare. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers this as a description of digital health: