The proliferation of technology in health care is everywhere. It is beginning to change the way patients are cared for, how physicians engage the health care consumer, how research is conducted, and finally, how patients are being turned into health care activists and taking control of their personal health. This transformation is necessary in order for the industry to control cost and improve quality. We need to create a highly reliable system of care, and we can only do this by leveraging technology.
From the explosion of the iPhone and Apple’s Health app to the widespread popularity of Fitbit, access to a significant amount of one’s own personal health data, is at our fingertips. There will come a time—much sooner than later—when patients will walk into their doctors’ offices with their personal mobile devices armed with more information about their body chemistry and function than their doctor has on hand. The real question and what we must then try to navigate, is how will this information be used by the health care provider. If the information the consumer is accumulating is not being used to manage their health in a proactive way, then why collect the information? Will this collection of data and access to significant health information drive patients to advocate and even demand, more testing or interventionist exploration than is necessary?
Finally, a lot has been written lately about the security of mobile app data; however, I am confident the industry will continue adapting and innovating to address these issues. IT companies have developed all sorts of systems and applications to protect and ensure the security of patient health information. The reality is that when we operated with paper records, we probably had a less secure environment related to access and protection of patient information.