Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: Predictions for Health IT Include More Connected, Involved Patients

Predictions for Health IT Include More Connected, Involved Patients

Managing Editor

Earlier this summer at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, the company announced a new Health app and service, dubbed HealthKit, which will come as part of the iOS8 operating system. Although this is Apple's first venture into fitness tracking, it shouldn't have come as a surprise. As more and more entities get into the wearable technology game, it's only a matter of time before we see a real impact stemming from these devices--especially when it comes to health and health outcomes.

This past May, medical technology review firm, Software Advice, outlined its four predictions for doctors' offices in 2024, and not surprisingly, reliance on wearable technology topped their list. Devices that track steps taken, heart rate, calories burned (and in some cases, consumed) have been around for a few years now, with fitness junkies and couch potatoes alike joining the bandwagon. But how does this translate into what really matters? How does all of this information we're individually tracking on our arms or in our phones get to the doctor who can read it, understand it, and help us make informed decisions about our health? According to Profitable Practice's report, "wearable technology could alert the doctor whenever the patient [is] having issues or complications, as opposed to the patient ignoring the warning signs and waiting until their condition was severe to visit the doctor."

Of course, a lot still needs to happen in terms of technologies talking to each other, not to mention leveraging such technologies as part of your care plan with your doctor. But that should be the ultimate goal. Although it's great that you know this information about your body, having your doctor know it is just one step closer to improved overall health.

Profitable Practice's predictions take that a step further and assert that wearable technology could help reduce waiting times for doctor's appointments and could possibly phase out waiting rooms altogether. If wearable technology can give doctors most of the background information they need on a patient, then time spent collecting that information could be greatly reduced, thus expediting the whole doctor's office experience for many patients.

And getting rid of waiting rooms is just one step away from getting rid of doctor's appointment--at least those conducted in the physical sense. Telemedicine continues to grow in popularity, as the idea of connecting online with a doctor for routine care is often more convenient and appealing than attending a visit in an office. According to Profitable Practice, by 2024, up to 33 percent of doctor's office visits could actually be occurring virtually.

The fourth prediction from Profitable Practice contends that patients will increasingly control their medical charts--something that most patients have a desire to do. "In the future, patients and doctors could satisfy this demand by charting their visits together," says Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician and blogger.

Is this what we can expect 10 years from now? It's hard to say. With advancements in technology happening so fast, it's likely that "the next big thing" hasn't been--but will be--invented during this time. But it's pretty clear that more transparency, better communication, and increased patient control over health information is trending hard, and those of us in the industry would do well to keep a pulse on these trends.

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The Healthy(ist) blog is a platform to share, learn about, and debate topics related to public and social health, scientific research, health communications, and behavior change.
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