On technology and healthcare…

UnknownPOST SUMMARY: While many startups are promoting the use of technology and healthcare we can’t and shouldn’t lose sight that we still need the human touch to improve health outcomes.

I attended a research session yesterday in downtown Boston to get feedback from physicians on the current wave of technological innovation in healthcare.  While they all agreed that things like mobile apps and wearables could be useful they all said that under no circumstances is technology a replacement for a good relationship with your doctor.

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The idea that patients can use the Internet for everything from consulting a doctor to check symptoms misses the point that we are all individuals and that medicine has to take into account the individual.  Apps, for example, can measure how many steps we have taken or how active we are but they can’t determine who we are and our family history of certain health problems.  More and more research indicates that genetics play a more important role in our health.

Earlier this year, in research with MS patients, they indicated that they wanted an app to track the good and bad days, but they also indicated a strong desire to share that information with their doctor. If their doctor didn’t buy into the data they felt it would not really be meaningful.

Right now technology and medicine are like the Wild West; apps and stories unbounded. Yet with all this new technology can we really expect patients to be tied to their devices to continually enter data?  Some initial research with diabetics indicates that some apps can indeed help with control, but what about other health conditions like MS, or high cholesterol.  The MS patients we talked to said that while they would welcome an app to help monitor their good and bad days some felt it would a reminder that they had MS. How can we account for those who feel this way?

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Then there is big data. While it can be useful for some research can data really outline underlying issues with each  individual patient?  Are we using big data too much to the point that the well being of individuals is missing?

The FDA is pretty much staying out of the picture on the use of technology and healthcare at a time when they should lay the foundation to move forward.  [bctt tweet=” Medicine is not an exact science thus the practice of medicine”].  We need more one to one contact and to understand that while technology can help it can never replace a good HCP.