Healthcare has been focused primarily on the doctor-patient encounter at the point of care in a healthcare facility over the last century. It was the main and only contact point between the patient and the healthcare system. It is literally the bottle neck in the entire healthcare process.
Episodic clinic visits with your doctor will soon be a relic from a bygone era. Logically, it is impossible to give adequate care with just a few minutes of contact with a healthcare professional. Making decisions under duress in a crowded clinic and the time pressure of getting through all your patients, will hardly result in good healthcare.
Patients with chronic diseases spend most of their time away from the doctor’s office and hence the ability to capture data in between clinic visits is so vital in ensuring that better informed decisions are made at, or even away from, the point of contact. One classic example is hypertension. It is clear that a decision cannot be made just based on the blood pressure measurement at the clinic, as often it is not representative of the overall blood pressure control.
The exponential progress of digital technology has now allowed us to rethink the delivery of healthcare. The ability to collect, collate and interpret data is now within reach, empowering both the patients and physicians alike in the effort to manage chronic conditions. Making clinical decisions in real time can help attain better outcomes and avoid potential complications from a delayed response. The inefficiencies of visiting your doctor at a specific point in time, can be removed, and be replaced by a continuous engagement with the healthcare team, powered by digital intelligence that we often refer to as artificial.
The doctor-patient encounter as we know it will evolve into a more fluid and continuous engagement. Patients’ health data is streamed to the cloud, whose engine will then give a meaningful analytical insight into the well-being and decide if there should be a therapeutic adjustment that needs to be made. Tackling medication non-adherence will be incorporated into this delivery strategy. The ultimate aim is to achieve outcomes that have plateaued under current healthcare delivery methods.
Healthcare cannot remain the same if we are to expect better outcomes. Change is always difficult and it requires good leadership and a strong resolve from all parties if we are to make any meaningful change.
Dr Benjamin Cheah