The second and final day of the Connected Health Conference was another great and engaging way to spend a day indulging in digital health technology. Several themes continued to emerge as the conference wound down.
Many Digital Health companies are trying to provide personalized experiences for their customers. Using video, text and even digital personal assistants like Alexa, these companies are looking to make something unique for each patient. Patients may change behaviors and make more lasting changes with personalized experiences and regular communications. A lot of the options included regular coaching and taking a more holistic look at a disease process. I found it quite fascinating that results one company was able to obtain with weight loss when they incorporated virtual mental health care.
Whether its called Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Intelligence or Assisted Intelligence, it is clear that AI is going to become a large part of the healthcare landscape very soon. As above, some of the personalization of digital health technology can be algorithmic to guide diagnosis and treatment options. AI can predict a diagnosis based on symptoms as well and physicians in many cases and are even better at identifying skin cancers. Fairly soon, a patient may be able to use AI to help understand the symptoms they have, maybe even diagnose themselves and then guide a patient through the next step in the healthcare system. The picture to the right is of Pillo, a new AI driven droid like robot that will dispense your medications on time, discuss your health, call you family and even activate emergency services if needed.
For physicians, we will have to start to adapt to having AI as part of our work flow. Initially it might just be technology with natural language processing allowing physicians an easier way to interact with EMRs. But as AI proves to be more any more effective at synthesizing and analyzing data, physicians may find that they no longer need to spend much time on the process of diagnosis. As above, if a patient can check a worrisome more at home with an app on their phone, the physician may just be needed to confirm and remove the lesion. Physicians may find that they are spending much more time creating treatment plans and executing a treatment plan than looking for a specific disease.
A fascinating statistic was discussed at the Connected Health Conference that has been churning around my brain. The average American has 4 physician visits a year and spends about 15 minutes of face time with a physician each time. That adds up to just one hour of face to face time with a physician every year for the average American. When you think about it from a patient point of view, there is so much that is inconvenient about medical care. Most outpatient care follows business hours, so an appointment requires taking time away from work.
It is almost a cliche to talk about wait times but once a patient takes time off from work, spends time driving to their physician’s office, they will need to wait for 15-60 minutes in the waiting room. Then once they are actually taken to an exam room they usually wait there, allowing the physician to determine the beginning and end of every appointment, simply by walking in and out of the exam room. There are insurance hassles and paperwork hassles and call-back issues. Trying to see a physician is inconvenient for a lot of people. Digital health is trying to change that, providing technology that can bring the healthcare system to the patient on their terms. I heard many times at the conference that a patient’s home is going to become the center of their healthcare delivery. Withe remote patient monitoring, home diagnostics, AI driven personal healthcoaches and virtual visits, digital health can provide convenient care that a patient is more likely to use and use in an effective manner.
Overall, I felt the Connected Health Conference was a huge success and I had a profound impact on me. By empowering patients to be at the lead of their own care Digital Health will revolutionize where and how we provide and receive medical care – and sooner than we think.