Anyone that is unfortunate enough to have to deal with a mental or physical health condition knows that managing symptoms is a daily obligation. Doctor visits will be more frequent with an ongoing condition, and at best, a patient may get 15-20 minutes with their care provider every 3 or 4 months depending on the necessity of follow up care. So the other 99% of the time, patients are left to fend for themselves with a visit summary document or some personal notes to navigate the management of their condition.
Wearables continue to improve with more data points captured.
The (not so) new trend with actively engaged patients revolves around wearable devices and applications. According to an article on Forbes.com app developers are making strides in managing some aspects mental health through mood detection, anxiety treatment, and substance abuse management, as highlighted in the article. It is a fair assumption that most consumers are quite aware of the smart watches and other wearable devices that allow a person to track physical and vital statistics. Yet the knowledge that a morbidly obese patient is now taking 2000 extra steps a day,on average, is good to boost the esteem of that patient, but it does little to inform the care provider between visits in a way that could affect a treatment or medication regiment in a positive manner.
The best way for these devices to provoke beneficial changes in healthcare is though collecting all of the data being captured by these apps and importing it to the electronic health record (EHR) system used at the appropriate provider's office. When patient reported data flows, unrestricted, into the appropriate channels of their own records at their doctor's office, the true power of a wearable device or app will be realized. The best part about data is that it is unbiased, and if deidentified, can serve to benefit entire populations of patients in ways that medical professionals are just beginning to embrace.
Unbiased data gets to the scientific truth of the matter. A patient can tell his/her doctor anything they want, but without the data to back it up, it cannot be accepted as an absolute fact. Deidentifying this data ensures that the patient's privacy remains intact. When a patient consents to submit their data with no identifying markers, they are helping everyone with a similar experience to their own.
Better health outcomes are on the horizon, yet they can be brought the foreground more quickly if we can continue to promote the interoperability of patient data to provide analytical access to the scientific centers that can properly interpret and make the best use of this information.