Medical apps are specific to a person’s healthcare needs – whether it is a proactive interest in general health and well-being, or a reactive behavior due to some medical diagnosis. In either scenario, medical apps are designed in an effort to control or monitor medical conditions and related data. Some people think of an “app” as simple software that directly connects to a website which serves a larger function. Apps have a variety of purposes such as allowing a person to identify services and topics of special interest to the user – to satisfy a particular need or request. Any medical app is a tool designed to assist the user or care provider in managing a person’s overall health, and was never intended to replace a medical doctor. What to do with all of this data? People are drowning in information yet thirst for knowledge. Please visit your doctor for the knowledge and interpretation of medical app data.
The value of professional human interaction as it pertains to your health care is second to none. Medical apps are growing in numbers, there are now over 13,805 different medical apps available for your smartphone on the App Store as of August 2015. The growth in choices also establishes a competition for features and functionality. These apps can help you with all kinds of proactive and reactive healthcare choices. Whether you want to count your daily footsteps, heart beats or how much time you spend in REM sleep, “There’s an app for that…” as the saying goes. All of these apps available can provide you with a tremendous amount of health data, however, what do you do with this information? How is this data to be interpreted or compared and not just app to app but to your human genome? Your doctor, whether a primary caregiver or specialist, is the person to visit and discuss the outcomes and interpretation of the data provided to you by your new app. Your personal data points can be easily uploaded to your doctor’s Electronic Health Record application; this will create a record of your health trends and be monitored by your medical professional.
Interaction between patient and physician is very important. Compassion in the delivery of care helps to ease some patient stressors. Healthcare discussion with questions and answers going back and forth regarding patient visits for chief complaints and presenting in person cannot be done with an app on your smartphone. This type of human interaction cannot be replaced and patients should not attempt to interpret their own data. A visit with your doctor can help to decipher the data gathered by the smartphone app. Many doctors will take the physical data and import it into the EHR for comparison and mapping to show trends. Apps also have functions built in to trend data but cannot interpret the data in relation to family history and lifestyle choices.
The doctor-patient relationship, as it develops over time, is very important in the delivery of healthcare. The security of the patient exam room allows and promotes open discussion on healthcare topics that might otherwise feel uncomfortable. This confidential sanctuary is an open forum for a variety of topics including family history, social history, current and past lifestyle choices, all of which can help to bring medical recommendations suitable for a particular patient. Medical apps can deliver additional details where data is involved, however the one-on-one conversation between a patient and doctor brings the confidence needed in healthcare. The cause of the visit to your doctor can be better resolved by the effect of ongoing choices and recommendations for you and your family as it pertains to healthcare.
Additional benefits to the continuation of the medical apps include but are certainly not limited to, worldwide notifications and data capture that can be communicated to your doctor via the electronic health record. EHRs like PrognoCIS can integrate many different medical apps and bring seamless continuing dynamic healthcare updates. Medical apps are not confined to your smart phone. Many innovations in medical apps now include wearable technology like wristbands, necklaces and clothing. The future of technology may be an implanted microchip. Each of these different examples connect to your smartphone and capture the data as it pertains to the healthcare priority for that particular device. Once the data is gathered, the next step will be to transmit this information to your doctor’s EHR for data interpretation. Your health care takes a team. Team members may include you, your family, the doctor, or their staff, including nurses, pharmacists and consulting physicians for specialized medical needs.
Medical apps can bring even more benefits with the consultation of the human doctor. Ideas are abundant to help medical apps continue to make advances, and will eventually bring more widely used and accepted uses for personal health information (PHI). Every person has different medical needs so we do not anticipate the number of medical apps declining anytime soon. Doctors have developed and provided medical advice for the flow of data capture. This ultimately human experience lends itself to the continuation and need for your doctor in your healthcare program. Medical apps should never be seen as a replacement to your doctor, but as an enhancement to the healthcare experience.
Seven reasons why medical apps are not equal to your doctor and their irreplaceable input:
- Human touch is very integral in healthcare delivery:
This one to one personal interaction between patient and doctor lends to open discussion on personalized healthcare needs. Just as every person has different needs and requirements for healing, every doctor works especially for the patient on an individual basis. This communication is bilateral and no matter how advanced medical apps are or will be, they should not be seen as an alternative to ongoing care. Doctors are highly trained with exceptional skills and want to share their experiences with patients and families whether in the confines of a patient exam room or in a surgical setting. Information and self-diagnosis is very easy with the internet. However a lack of confirmation and discussion with your doctor can leave holes in your personalized and individualized medical needs. It cannot be imagined that an auto mechanic might be replaced with an app, so why your doctor? People are putting themselves at risk by taking the advice of medical apps instead of that of professionals.
- Medical Apps don’t have bedside manner:
Bedside manner is an absolute characteristic patients are looking for when considering a long-term relationship with a doctor and the medical clinic staff. A positive and upbeat physician can be contagious to all facets of healthcare. Healthcare in this scenario includes the entire office staff where the first impression by a patient is established. The clinic and all staff are a direct reflection of the provider. A provider that is confident, kind and giving of themselves will be reflected in the outward image of their staff. Patients, their families and referring colleagues are attracted to this positive natural character. Benefits of a positive patient experience can have a rippling effect. A medical app is a computer software program and provides data and charts graphing comparison data. The medical app cannot listen to you, look into eyes of a crying patient who may be in pain or hearing bad news for the first time, and show compassion. The human doctor with emotions can help ease the pain with confidence and experience. Patient and family perception of care is primarily based on experience and bedside manner.
- Second opinions regarding a medical conditions and care paths can be the difference between life and death:
A second opinion whether sought or not, can be made available through a request made to a medical provider. A medical app is data driven, therefore personal information and family history are not a part of the medical directed care. The doctor takes into consideration all factors and history relative to the chief complaint presented. In today’s highly advanced technical world as it pertains to medical diagnostics, treatments and documentation, PrognoCIS is an excellent EHR to bring many different components interacting with each other.
- Doctors use, create and provide valuable input in the creation of medical apps:
Medical apps have been used for hours to cross check medications for drug interactions and trials of new medications. Technology is important and should be used, but not in place of the doctor. A medical app most commonly used by medical professionals is one that can be used directly at the point of care for a patient with medical conditions in need of exact and up to date, conclusive, data.
- Informed consent is tied to medical ethics for the patient and family to fully understand the risk and benefits of care path treatments for current medical conditions:
If the condition is deemed to be a chronic illness, the medical app cannot provide palliative care. This extra layer of caring can bring comfort to patients and family members. This option is part of the human experience of healthcare. The more open discussion between the palliative team and the patient along with family members brings knowledge to the condition. The more the team works together, the better possible outcome.
- Patient Portal is a feature of the EHR that can bring the direct connection between the medical clinic and patient:
A patient portal can be considered a medical app although not typically found on the open market via the app store. The service is a benefit provided by the medical practice. The patient cannot and does not have access to their medical chart nor any other patient’s chart. The patient can see only what the practice will allow. The portal is secure and allows patients to see things such as lab results, previous and current prescriptions along with dates written and dosage levels and strength.
- A medical app can be seamlessly integrated with complete interoperability and global notifications communicated with the doctor:
This communication lends to the ongoing benefits of medical apps. These medical apps offer many benefits to patients at all levels for a better experience of personalized healthcare. The medical apps will continue to evolve and more choices will become available. Medical apps save lives, they should be explored for individual patient needs. The best usage of these apps would be to have a discussion with the care provider and develop a plan for understanding and take advice on interpretation. Worldwide notifications transmitted directly to the medical clinic or medical app alerts can identify particular data points to be aware of as a part of the physician discussion and plan.
Future PrognoCIS blogs will explore ideas like: embedded and implantable medical apps, including microchips tracked and monitored by the patients chosen medical staff; wearable technology, which is quickly evolving; and summary discussions regarding the release of new medical apps and the evolution of current ones. Each of these current and future technologies will become commonplace and used for both proactive healthcare and reactive monitoring to ensure optimal healthcare delivery.
Medical apps are designed to contribute to personalized patient care. Medical advice and discussion with a medical provider is integral in the successful use and interpretation of the data gathered by each medical app. Technology is not a bad thing; our point of view is to keep the doctor in the picture as it pertains to care. Research, in advance of a medical app download and usage, should depend on input from both the doctor and patient.
Bizmatics Inc. is a software company that promotes the many benefits of medical apps, but understands that the continued need of a human medical provider should not be discounted. The medical application developed by Bizmatics Inc. is PrognoCIS Electronic Health Record, used by thousands of medical professionals. PrognoCIS is a fully integrated and certified EHR servicing the needs of medical clinics.
Author: Chris Ferguson