One wonders how many more videogames will come onto the market, FDA approved, requiring an Rx and costing $100 per month, to compete with this initial offering. Or will this be a monopoly?
Lots of other questions come to mind. What will the receptivity of healthcare practitioners be for this offering in particular, digital therapies in general? Will parents pony up the $100 a month for three months of initial therapy? How effective will the therapy be? Will parents reup after the initial trial?
Bottom Line. Don’t you just love it when something genuinely new like this comes along? All the new research avenues that one gets to pursue!
Check this out. What you will see is an announcement that Alexa is now HIPAA compliant, and is being employed by several healthcare systems to allow patients to make appointments, check on prescriptions, etc. using voice technology.
Key here is the piece’s use of the terminology “nascent” to describe the current state of the application of voice technology to healthcare, potentially being used by patients and clinicians alike. Everything from supporting patient compliance programs to scribing for physicians can enjoy enhanced effectiveness and efficiency by using voice technology based applications.
Bottom Line. Here is the really interesting part of this. I have absolutely no belief that the Bezos gang is pursuing these apps for apps sake. Nope. What they are doing here is developing a marvelous platform that will let them get into pharmacy and even clinical practice, all connected and accessed through Alexa. And once they do, they will become a formidable competitor for the healthcare dollar. Perhaps an unbeatable competitor. They can develop what amounts to a closed system. They are being very circumscribed and judicious in offering development kits here. Their competitors won’t likely get one, or if they do, they will be paying a significant royalty just like everybody else does that runs their business through Amazon.
Exciting possibilities here. For Amazon. For healthcare.
Question. What should pharmaceutical companies be doing at this point to make sure that they are on this train when it leaves the station?
Check this out. What you will see is an unfortunate visual. The visual of a parent/physician, seven days before Christmas, trapped in front of the computer, pecking away. So what? So, lots? Patients are feeling unattended to as their doctor must prioritize paperwork over care. The kids pictured above are doubtless feeling deprioritized as the parent/physician is hidden away, pecking away. And the physician has an emotion too. Anger. Understandable! Bottom Line. My first thought about all of this? Being a physician means never getting out of school. To clarify, I don’t mean that doctors are subject to life-long learning. Of course they are, and well they should be.No, what I mean is that doctors never escape the horrors of the scholastic “all-nighter,” not one dedicated to nocturnal patient care but rather one wasted on the mental masturbation of busy work. How unfortunate!
You may remember that a week or so ago, I did a riff on empathy. I discussed the fact that psychologists speak of three forms of empathy. I can cognitively understand what you are going through, or I can actually experience the emotions that you are experiencing, or I can actually be moved to help you with your issues. Or all of the above.
Let’s take that discussion one step further. Check this out. What you will see and hear in this 3-minute video is Will Garner of Tipping Point Media discussing how Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality can be used to create empathy, tightening the bond between representative and physician and between physician and patient.
Sort of a fascinating discussion, actually. Got me thinking about the post I did on empathy. Got me asking myself the question as to what kinds of empathy VR and AR are actually trying to raise, how successful they will be in doing so and what behaviors might change as a result. My best guess is that while these technologies will attract interest and engagement, which in and of itself is a good thing, they are not likely to increase physician empathy. I am guessing that most Rheumatologists already understand the pain experienced by a rheumatoid arthritis patient and are anxious to help if they can. Similarly, most Ophthalmologists likely “get” the negative impact of macular degeneration and are frankly quite frustrated that there is often not a lot that they can do to help. Does either specialty really “feel” the pain of the patient? No, but that is probably okay.
Bottom Line. As with every potential application of technology, one is left to answer the question “To what end?” While VR and AR, like many new technologies, are genuinely whiz bang, I increasingly ask questions about where are we going with all this? Clearly, Will’s presentation focuses on the technologies’ ability to increase empathy. But inquiring minds want to know … Then what???
Check this out. What you will see is a list that purports to hold forth some of the best apps available for doctors. Don’t spend a lot of time looking at this. You will just get a headache. As I did a quick review of this list, a couple of things occurred to me. They include:
Many of these apps seem like they would make better books than apps. I can’t quite get in touch with learning to treat Heart Failure by looking at my iPhone.
I also cannot quite picture being able to find a requisite app on the phone of the average doctor. If she starts to populate her smart phone with an app for every medical purpose, the cafeteria of choices would rapidly become rather unwieldy.
This article got me to thinking. What role(s) should apps play in the hands of medical professionals? I’m thinking that apps for HCP’s should put information into their hands, and maybe computational abilities, that they need to access quickly. And frequently. Does the average doctor need an app that helps him to interpret x-rays? I am going with nope! How about one that teaches her how to help patients to quit smoking? Sorry, but nope again!
Bottom Line. If such a plethora of “apps for doctors” gets built, my guess is that most physicians will start to tune out on the whole genre. Perhaps we should cut this tidal wave off at the pass?
Check this out. What you will see is the review of an app that helps the user to diagnose and keep track of moles that might be cancerous. Interesting stuff. I have two reactions. First, as the article rightfully comments, I am sure that there are a gazillion people out there who NEVER get their skin checked by a Dermatologist. Never thought about it, too inconvenient, too scary, etc. Would this app be better than nothing for such people? Quite possibly. BUT. Note the picture above. This woman sees a lesion, and knows to point the camera at it. However, the trick is seeing the damn thing in the first place. A recent personal experience. TMI, but exemplary. Living in South Carolina, I once again yesterday laughed out loud when my PCP asked if I was “staying out of the sun?” Doctor, I moved here to be in the sun! Why did she ask? A recent check by my Dermatologist had discovered a very shallow melanoma under my left sideburn. I am off for Mohs surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina on Valentine’s Day. I had one on my left shoulder a year ago, and had that removed immediately. My point? My PCP was amazed that my Dermatologist was so diligent that she found this little spot under my hair. I certainly wasn’t aware that it was there. The PA that spotted the one on the back of my shoulder last year asked how long it had been there. I had never even seen it!!! SO. How could I have turned a camera on these little spots? Bottom Line. I have gotten to the point that every time I see something like this, I ponder its potential unintended consequences. While I am sure that this app will find some lesions and save some lives, I worry that it might actually stop some people from going to the Dermatologist with potentially tragic results. I hope I am wrong!
At least according to this physician’s perspective. I think this doc is on to something. In a world in which Alexa and Siri can readily do your bidding, voice recognition software and appropriately designed EMR’s should make the money spent on scribes, and the intrusion that they represent to the patient care setting, a thing of the past. Bottom Line. YUP!
Check this out. What you will see is not the quick blog post that I usually send you to for a quick burst of profundity. Nope. This is a rather extensive and well written New Yorker article that sets out to answer this important question. Read it! Although the article goes on for pages, its message is summarized in one great quote: “…three years later I’ve come to feel that a system that promised to increase my mastery over my work has, instead, increased my work’s mastery over me.” Several important points are made here. First, physicians thoroughly understand that digitization is necessary to support medical care in 2018 and beyond. AND. They are clearly among the most tech savvy of all professions. So, what’s the problem? As you read over these pages, the answer here becomes painfully clear. Doctors believe, and apparently rightfully so, that these systems are designed without taking into consideration the contextin which the physician works. What used to be done in just a few keystrokes now requires many. Interfaces are built based on “political” concerns, rather than “technical.” The costs involved in setting up a computer system like the one described here are huge. In the $Billions. AND. The quantity and quality of the medical care being delivered actually decrease substantially while the practitioners wrestle with the new software. Bottom Line. Funny. Sort of. We live in a world that increasingly wants to compensate physicians based on “quality of care” and “outcomes,” yet we foist computer systems like this on them.Not fair!
Check this out. What you will see is a brief and insightful post about how little tolerance people have for inconvenience. When it comes to healthcare, patients want the latest in technology to take care of them definitively and immediately. Conveniently. BUT. This blogging physician believes that at some point in time, patients will learn that physicians will, in the process of automating healthcare, “regress to the means of consistency and quality.” In the process, the warmth of interaction that used to be a hallmark of medical practice will disappear. Bottom Line. SO. Do patients want “high tech” or “high touch” in the delivery of their healthcare? This doctor thinks that the average patient would say “both!” Now what?
And he comments with some skepticism. Of course, he is the “Skeptical Cardiologist.” Check this out. What you will see is a physician wrestling with the best way to use “wearables” to keep track of heart health. As you will read in the link, he is far from sure that the new Apple Watch is delivering the great medical breakthroughs in heart health to which it is laying claim. In fact, he reports, the new model doesn’t even deliver on the interoperability with other wearables that he has enjoyed with previous models. AND. The doctor is understandably concerned about what will happen if the watch generates false positive arrhythmias, sending unsuspecting wearers scurrying off to ER’s. Bottom Line. This will be interesting to watch. As usual, let me ask you to stand back for a moment and ponder where all of this goes. Who should be interested in wearing a watch that detects arrhythmias, what is the appropriate nature and level of physician involvement with the device, how should they be instructed to make use of the information, etc. Stay tuned!