After turning on my GPS app to monitor my walking time, pace, distance, and calories burned, I started thinking about how technology can change physician/ patient communication for the better, if used thoughtfully.
For example, an article discussing the stethoscope as a historical artifact, raises the question are our physicians’ early or deferred adopters of advanced diagnostic technology.
“The stethoscope, the iconic device representing medical technology for the past two centuries, may be fading from the scene as physicians start to embrace mobile technology in the form of handheld ultrasound devices and smartphone apps. Newer digital stethoscopes enable doctors to not only listen to heart sounds and record them, but handheld devices provide high-resolution ultrasound that can actually see what’s wrong with the heart. Why do you want to still focus on these heart sounds that provide very indirect information and secondary acoustic events?” (A)
A related question: Do your physicians take full advantage of the scope of uses of their Electronic Medical Record? • Access to patient information, such as diagnoses, allergies, lab results, and medications. •Access to new and past test results among providers in multiple care settings. •Computerized provider order entry. •Computerized decision-support systems to prevent drug interactions and improve compliance with best practices. •Secure electronic communication among providers and patients. •Patient access to health records, disease management tools, and health information resources. •Computerized administration processes, such as scheduling systems. •Standards-based electronic data storage and reporting for patient safety and disease surveillance efforts.” (B)
And next on the horizon: Smart Phones, if used thoughtfully, can facilitate doctor/ patient communication.
“Smartphones already can be used to take blood-pressure readings or even do an electrocardiogram. ECG apps have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for consumers and validated in many clinical studies. The apps’ data are immediately analyzed, graphed, displayed on-screen updated with new measurements, stored and (at an individual’s discretion) shared. I thought I’d seen it all in my decades long practice as a cardiologist, but recently, for the first time, I had an ECG emailed to me by a patient, with the subject line, “I’m in atrial fib, now what do I do?” I immediately knew that the world had changed. The patient’s phone hadn’t just recorded the data; it had interpreted it.” (C)
Getting back to weight loss, just-for-fun, here’s an interesting “futuristic” app. (D)
“Our team has created the world’s first handled device able to scan food at a molecular level: the …. Food Sensor. Our technology includes a three-part system: a pocket-sized spectrometer, a cloud-based patented analysis engine, and a mobile app that work together to scan foods, identify calories, macronutrients, allergens, and also provide relevant information such as food fraud, food adulteration and food quality.”
So besides reading these blog posts you can gauge how innovative your physicians in some of the following ways: every Tuesday the New York Times Science section includes health care technology updates; subscribe (usually free) to email newsletters from nationally prominent academic medical centers. “Google” (carefully) about your medical concerns and conditions, and what new diagnostic technology is being used.
My app says I burned 150 calories writing this post!