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Why patient care needs to start with the patients

Lynne Dunbrack
Jun 08, 2016 - reading time 4 mins

By Lynne Dunbrack

Research Vice President, IDC Health Insights 

 

Lynne is Research Vice President for IDC Health Insights responsible for the research operations for IDC Health Insights. Specific areas of Lynne's in-depth coverage include mobile, constituency engagement, interoperability, health information exchange, privacy, and security.

By Lynne DunbrackRead less
Both the patient and the healthcare professional must be ready to accept that the only way for healthcare to move forward is to deal with an influx of data                 

When you’re 18, you think you’re invincible. You think you’ll never get sick. You think 30 is old. This has always been the case, but it is compounded in the modern age by the rising culture of instant gratification.

 

People have been led to believe that they can have their cake and eat it, that making the wrong health choices doesn’t matter because there is always a magic pill to make it right again. The trouble is, as populations surge and health systems buckle, the magic is wearing off.

 

Getting people to not only realize this but take action against it will be an uphill struggle, both for the ‘invincible’ patients, and for the over-burdened healthcare providers left looking after them.

 

Even beyond these obstacles, there is another layer stopping many people taking responsibility for their own health choices: cost. Since the global economic crisis, many people have been struggling to afford somewhere to live, so how could they afford good healthcare let alone a connected health device? While the data gleaned from the device – say a fitness tracker or heartrate monitor – could be essential in helping a doctor monitor an ongoing health condition, the initial expense must seem like an avoidable luxury.

 

Until this issue has been addressed – either by lowering the cost of connected devices or repurposing health funding models – then encouraging patients to take responsibility for their own health will remain a constant battle.

Naturally, it is not only a practical battle, but also a mental one.

 

Even if patients can afford connected care devices that allow them to be responsible for their own health, they might be worried there is an even greater price to pay; taking the blame. If the data proves they are failing to live as they should, that they are not taking the recommended number of steps, or not following strict dietary advice, will they then be penalized? Will doctors refuse to treat them further? Will insurers give them more expensive premiums?

This fear of blame infects the adoption of connected care devices by healthcare professionals too. With a potential tsunami of data coming their way, many doctors and physicians are alarmed at the legal implications if they miss something or fail to intervene in a change in data. Are they accountable? Or is the responsibility still with the patient who also failed to notice?

 

To overcome this resistance, there needs to be two things: ambitious government-backed policy change making it clear where responsibility lies, and ambitious commitment from everyone in the healthcare journey. Essentially, both the patient and the healthcare professional must be ready to accept that the only way for healthcare to move forward is to deal with an influx of data, not only to provide it and receive it, but to listen to it.

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