Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

How doctors should track your health when you're not in the office

Out of all the waking hours in a year, the typical American spends only a handful of them in their doctor's office under close watch. Since many patients dismiss the recommendations they've been given, such as not taking their medication, there is increasing interest among doctors to find ways to automate monitoring of their patients outside of the office.

How doctors should track your health when you're not in the office

Out of all the waking hours in a year, the typical American spends only a handful of them in their doctor’s office under close watch.  Since many patients dismiss the recommendations they’ve been given, such as not taking their medication, doctors are increasingly interested in finding ways to automate monitoring of their patients outside of the office. 

Michael L. Parchman, director of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, relays a story of a physician he knows who has grown increasingly frustrated with patients not following his advice.  “There’s only so much we can do,” the physician says. 

One possible solution is the idea of “automated hovering.”  As described by Kevin Volpp of the University of Pennsylvania, it would utilize technology such as video, wireless devices, or social media to allow for more frequent feedback on patients.  For instance, Volpp explains the potential of a home scale that would transmit frequent weight information directly to a hospital server for physicians to review.

That feedback could also be tied into incentive programs to help push people into better health habits.  While exploring the problem of non-adherence to medication, Professor Nancy Petry from the University of Connecticut Health Center had her patients create a video of themselves taking their medication, then email her the video, and her clinic would reply back with a financial reward.

However, it can’t come off like Big Brother. It has to be strategically and non-intrusively implemented. Volpp stresses that we need “a more effective way of hovering over patients that will be well-received” using “an engagement strategy that keeps people using it at a high level.”

 


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About this blog

Check Up covers major health events in our region and offers everything from personal health advice to an expert look at health reform. Read about some of our bloggers here.

For Inquirer.com. Portions of this blog may also be found in the Inquirer's Sunday Health Section

Michael Cohen id the president of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices in Horsham.

Daniel Hoffman is the president of Pharmaceutical Business Research Associates (PBRA) in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania, a healthcare research and consulting company specializing in key account positioning and messaging.

Michael Cohen
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