Will self-diagnostic apps increase unnecessary concerns and create unnecessary appointments?

Noticed this commentary on the MobiHealthNews “Shazam for Heartbeats” article over in the Vodafone “The Health Debate” Linkedin Group by John Murray, Vodafone’s mHealth Business Development Manager:

This is an interesting concept and the article discusses other technologies that display the breadth of possibilities in mHealth. However, doesn’t the big increase in apps that enable self-diagnosis mean a big increase in unnecessary concerns? Or is the consequent increase in unnecessary appointments with healthcare professionals worth it if more people are able to spot true illness at an earlier stage?

I think this is a common misconception about the mHealth market and I think there are lots of lessons to be learnt from other industry’s that have already successfully introduced electronic monitoring and diagnostic tools without this development (eg. the engine management system on my car isn’t sending me to the garage unneccessarily and when I do go it’s appropriate and timely).

I also think it’s important that we look for 21st century solutions to 21st century problems eg. instead of “going to an office” for a consultation we take the Doctor to the patient with a mobile video consultation supported with rich video resources.

Thought it would be worthwhile sharing my comment in the group:

We’ve already extensively trialed the Alivecor device that Dr Leslie Saxon is talking about and although it’s not a self diagnostic device (you still need the ECG to be read by a professional) we’ve found this doesn’t lead to a “big increase in unnecessary concerns”.

It’s a very common preassumption though. In fact one patient that I help diagnose (using the device/service) with a potentially life threatening condition was actually berated by their NHS GP because they also shared this prejudice. You can read more on our experiences in this post I shared on my blog last year.

Please forget any concerns you have over unnecessary appointments with healthcare professionals because the short and sweet of it all is even if you JUST focus on it’s capacity to detect patients with Atrial Fibrillation (and ignore all the other diagnostic and monitoring opportunities the Alivecor Technology can and will support) you have a cheap easy diagnostic test for a condition that in the UK effects 10% of patients aged 75+, is the contributing factor to almost 20% of ischaemic strokes (which for a variety of reasons tend to be the types that are considered the most “expensive” as in 95% of instances those aged 75+ who suffer a cardioembolic middle cerebral artery occlusion either die or are institutionalized).

Needless to say through personal experience with such patients this was obvious to me when I first clapped eyes on Dr Dave’s wonderful invention!

About David Doherty

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1 Response to Will self-diagnostic apps increase unnecessary concerns and create unnecessary appointments?

  1. Pingback: Will self-diagnostic apps increase unnecessary concerns and create unnecessary appointments? | Digital Health Journal

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