“The doctor’s smartphone will see you now”

Abhishek Pandey, a medical student at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, asks if the incorporation of increasingly sophisticated digital tech to the consutltation room is a good thing?

A visit to the modern doctor’s office may look like this: You arrive at the clinic after making an appointment online. In the exam room, you sit across from your doctor, who is facing a computer screen. She clicks away at the keyboard, occasionally pulling out a smartphone and touching the screen a few times as you respond to her questions. Then, before you know it, the visit is over. Your doctor hands you a printout summarizing your visit and says that she sent you an “e-copy” as well. Your lab results will be ready to view online by the end of the day. She renewed your anti-hypertension prescription and sent it electronically to your pharmacy. Finally, she requests that you continue sending your daily home blood-pressure readings. The entire visit lasts no longer than 15 minutes. The physician leaves your room to see the next patient

Abhishek has brilliantly described what happens when you have a system that is fixated on only adding digital tools to the Doctor side of the equation. It’s an excellent explanation of what goes wrong when we build IT systems that exclude patients and highlights why we must let patients enter their information using clinically validated tools whenever we can.

Watch this video and you’ll understand how mobile patient history taking questionnaires enable patients to:

> avoid the need for an in office encounter (and the related time off work, journey to the clinic, wait in the waiting room) whenever it’s not necessary.

> use interactive patient history taking questionnaires instead of an “online appointment booking” process so that they can answer all the important questions and ask any of their own BEFORE making an appointmnet (in 80% of cases the Mayo Clinic reported that the in office consultation was unneccessary). Related: A digital healthcare experience doesn’t mean online appointment booking.

> avoid having to sit across from a “doctor who is facing a computer screen” while they click “away at the keyboard, occasionally pulling out a smartphone and touching the screen a few times as you respond to her questions” because tools now enable us to be present with the most appropriate Doctor who knows why we’re there, the concerns we have and the info is already in their computer BEFORE we walk in the door.

> be sure that their “doctor is paying attention to the details of your story” because they don’t have to type as you talk because all your important details are already in their computer because you (the person most interested in ensuring they’re correct) entered them.

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers… …But, the keyboard and touch-screen are like the stethoscope and scalpel. They are only as good as their users

Exactly why we shouldn’t be thinking in the world of Healthcare that it’s only the Doctors who should use them. Giving patients access to these tools opens up new opportunities as patients are best placed to report and describe their concerns.

In teaching hospitals, nearly all of the medical students tuck smartphones into their white-coat pockets. While students can use apps, such as DynaMed or ePocrates, to look up disease and drug information, anyone with a smartphone knows that apps can be as much of a tool as a toy. Are future doctors fully attentive during the “teachable moments” in the wards? Are they more concerned with looking up disease information than the patient? As the next generation of physicians graduate, many worry this new wave of electronics may be more of a distraction than a supplement

Wow what an incredibly dated perspective from a medical student. In my opinion it’s best to think of a smartphone as the efficient way to carry ALL your text books (eg. Doctor Companion by Medhand) and a calculator. If you want to do some maths in your head or on the back of a medication packet, remember a dosing quantity from your days in med school that’s great but for me or my child please use a up to date drug reference book and a calculator (thanks!).

I think the idea of the smartphone being a toy will disappear the minute Abhishek qualifies and gives a patient their mobile number or perhaps while training on the wards let’s a patient watch a good quality explanatory video about something they’ve just tried to explain. It’s normally an eye opener how powerful these “toys” can be when used properly…

About David Doherty

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1 Response to “The doctor’s smartphone will see you now”

  1. Pingback: ICMCC News Page » The doctor’s smartphone will see you now

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