How Physician-To-Physician Networks Improve Patient Care [Future Of Health]

Secure platforms are allowing medical professionals to solve difficult cases and review effective treatments by tapping into their peers’ expertise.

Inside a clinical setting patients’ cases can often be unique, requiring nuanced diagnosis to choose the best treatment plan. And while many doctors work in highly specialized areas, it is unlikely that physicians can be certain in every instance. In these situations, they rely on the opinion of their peers in order to ensure the best outcome for their patients. In a larger sense, the idea that doctors collaborate with one another is essential to advancing the profession as a whole. Today with digital tools, doctors now have the ability to exchange their accrued knowledge on research, diseases and the latest techniques and procedures with one another. These tools are helping doctors quickly source the information they need so they can focus on their patients or advancing their research.

These social platforms point to a trend from our Future of Health report we’re calling Physician-To-Physician Networks. These niche networks enable healthcare professionals to tap into the expertise of the wider medical community to share treatments and advice, while improving the level of care they can offer to patients.

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Doctors are already experimenting with ways to integrate their smart devices into their daily practices to improve their efficiencies, despite the fact that these workarounds might fall outside of current regulations. A study from Kantar Media found that 74% of the physicians surveyed use a smartphone for professional purposes, a 9% increase year-over-year. Further, 38% use both a smartphone and a tablet for professional purposes.
 By moving to adopt new protocols that encourage these behaviors in regulatory fashion, hospitals could streamline the way information and advice is shared between colleagues.

Clinicians estimate that 45% of their time—or about 27 minutes for every hour—is spent with patients while the remaining 55% is spent communicating and collaborating with other clinicians, or using electronic medical records and other clinical IT systems, according to a study from the Ponemon Institute. With digital tools and improved communication processes in place, it’s possible to consolidate and streamline the time doctors spend outside of the exam room, giving them more face-to-face time with their patients. At the same time, these networks can allow doctors to tap into specialized expertise that might otherwise not have access to, giving them critical information for diagnosing conditions and choosing the best course of treatment. As these professional relationships build, they effectively grow the collective knowledge of the entire medical community, which can lead to better health outcomes.

As we think about the broader implications of these Physician-To-Physician Networks, we suggest considering the following:

  • How can these networks be leveraged to share research and diagnoses with a wider community of medical professionals?
  • How can this research sync with data systems for aggregation and analysis?
  • What regulations and procedures can you implement to best help protect patients’ rights under HIPAA?
  • How can you connect providers with trusted peers to access real-time resources and advice around patient care?
  • How can you help connect highly specialized healthcare providers to spread their knowledge and share best practices with professionals outside of their expertise?
  • What additional training can you offer through these platforms to expand medical knowledge?

With the help of our partner Boehringer Ingelheim, PSFK Labs has released the latest Future of Health Report, which highlights the four major themes and 13 emerging trends shaping the evolving global landscape of healthcare. To see more insights and thoughts on the Future of Health visit the PSFK page.

Contributed by Tim Ryan

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