I went to my physician recently to get my annual physical. When he walked into the exam room carrying a Macbook laptop, he announced that his practice was finally switching to electronic medical records.
As I watched him struggle to find my electronic record on his Mac, I asked him if he was going to start prescribing apps to me soon and giving me smart phone physicals.
“No,” I don’t think so,” he said. “I believe the personal contact between a doctor and patient is really important. The smart phone can’t replace that.”
But he did acknowledge that technology will change how and where people get their healthcare. “I just got an iPhone,” he said. My 50-something doctor is behind the times. Should I be worried?
Probably not. He’s still a good doctor. Dr. Eric Topol, the man who said that talking to your phone is the future of medicine, also said that it takes 17 years for innovations to be adopted into clinical practice.
The iPhone was introduced in 2007. The iPad in 2010. It’s estimated that more than 100,000 health and wellness apps are currently on the market — approximately 15,000 of which are intended for use by clinicians and healthcare professionals.
How long will we have to wait before most physicians are prescribing medical apps? Or embracing other technology, such as Google Glass in the ER? In a recent blog post for HH&N Daily, Dr. Topol called for doctors to embrace a new era patient-generated data through mobile apps and wearable sensors.
Some, like Dr. Topol, are already there, but it will take some time before most doctors are comfortable with this technology.
Smart phones won’t curtail healthcare design. They won’t replace hospitals, clinics, or doctor’s offices. We’ll still need places to deliver certain kinds of care.
But mHealth may make our caregivers more productive and allow us to better manage chronic conditions. Which is a good thing.
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