Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Patients should be a lot less patient...

...for better tools anyway, and it may not be the personal health record (PHR).  I mean if Google Health couldn’t make it work…...just sayin’.  The big downfall of the PHR into the trough of disillusionment is the onerous requirement that consumers enter their own health data. Assuming you can get get access to your own health information (hard), the last thing I want to do after blowing two hours at the doctors office is spend another hour entering a bunch of medicalese into a PHR.  Of course some companies found just the right niche like @magnusHealthPortal (www.magnus healthportal.com) which manages student vaccinations and other health requirements for schools and universities. The key factor there, students don’t have to enter their own data but they can see it whenever they want to. Even with provider enabled PHR systems, ie. a portal you can access to see your own health data, this works great until you change providers and now you have to manage a group of systems to manage….what a pain.

Despite the challenges of implementing PHR, the benefits of having smart software that can help you with the tedious-but-critical aspects of managing your health are compelling. A medical study shows that screening tests can reduce mortality rates by 15% to 30%, while immunizations can reduce the risk of serious disease by as much as 50%. Another revealed that patients get an average of 10 minutes with their doctor and during that time they ask an average of 4 questions (which included, “Where is the bathroom” and “Do you validate parking?”). A doctor sees over 7,000 patients in a year so if you have not seen your doctor in over a month, he or she may have see over 1000 patients in the meantime (the population of a small city). 10 minutes is not a lot of time to catch up on your entire medical history, discuss changes in your condition, examine you, consider new diagnosis and treatments, discuss them, and order prescriptions, referrals, tests, etc.  That leaves precious little time to make sure you have all the information you need about your condition and treatment plan. Now consider that 80% of the information the doctor tells a patient is forgotten and you start to see the scope of the problem.

My partner and I started ProPatient to provide tools to teach you what you need to know, not manage your data. How do you get the information you need on medical conditions and issues, the stack of printed stuff the nurse gives you when you leave the clinic or the Internet?  Does anyone read all that?  Actually some people do. My girlfriend is a very detail oriented person (she has a PhD with 4.0 GPA also - wow) and when she was recently scheduled for a minor surgery, she read everything - the full 2 inch bible of what to do and not to do.  Her comment? “My doctor contradicted nearly everything that the printed materials instructed me to do or not do.  

Printed Instructions Doctor

“Don’t exercise for 2 weeks” “Wait a day or two”

“No showers for 2 days” “Cover it for 24 hours then shower away”
“No work for 3 days” “Rest for a day”

Of course the printed materials were ultra conservative and the doctor is tailoring the information to the patient through their experience and knowledge but how do you keep track of that differential?  How do you remember all the questions you want to ask your doctor? How do you keep track of all the follow up tasks?  What if you are managing these things for 3 kids and a sick mother? 1 in 4 Americans are caregivers and many of those are dealing with health issues themselves.   
Our approach is to provide simple, concise information on health topics with an interactive simulated doctor. There is a companion mobile app that reminds you of the questions you want to ask your doctor so you don’t forget them.  Add in smart checklists of things to consider when you have a health crisis or condition and you may have a frighteningly easy to use tool to make sure you do more of the right stuff at the doctor’s office or hospital.       

Dave Hadden

No comments:

Post a Comment