How Digital Checkups Provide Better Patient Care [Future of Health]

How Digital Checkups Provide Better Patient Care [Future of Health]

New technologies are making doctor's visits more regular, convenient and personal, all from the comfort of your couch.

  • 6 march 2014

Sitting quietly in a waiting room, speaking quickly with a doctor whose schedule is full of other needy patients, taking a prescription back to the front desk and making another appointment in six months; a scenario is familiar to millions around the world who are able to afford healthcare. Still, this model severely constrains patient-doctor interactions, which not only limits the topics of conversation but also their depth, leaving patients with questions about their diagnosis and treatment that are never addressed. Even then, not all patients can make it to a hospital or doctor’s office. Some live in remote areas without proper roads, others are elderly or live alone and thus have limited means of travel when ill.

No matter what your personal healthcare situation may be, new technological innovations make it easier than ever for patients to get in touch with their doctors. Whether it’s a simple question about a particularly nasty cold or an inquiry about how to properly clean a wound. These new ways to communicate with trained healthcare professionals from home is a trend in PSFK Labs’ latest Future of Health report we’re calling Remote House Calls.


While there are concerns about the level of care that can be achieved when a doctor and patient are on opposite ends of a screen, this new model has the potential to make these interactions much more frequent, which can improve health outcomes in the long run. During our conversation with John Pugh, Global Innovation Leader, Boehringer Ingelheim, he noted, “With the emergence of a virtual relationship with a physician, it means that we’re going to be able to have a relationship with a physician which is more regular, it’s more consistent, and it’s much more resource friendly. From the patient’s point of view it’s going to be more convenient. It’s going to be much more timely. From the health care system it’s going to be cheaper. It’s going to be more accurate as we have more decision making resources behind it. It should eventually lead to better outcomes, better health.”

Although the lack of a physical presence might not be for everyone, we see this trend having benefits to the overall system as more patients have access to quick, affordable care, unclogging ERs and keeping the population healthier for longer. It even incentivizes those who are facing mental health problems or neurological disorders, two-thirds of whom will never seek treatment according the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“Remote house calls create the opportunity to provide patients with care at the time and place they need it most, and further mitigates the risk of lack of adherence, not seeking help at all, recall bias and worsening of conditions,” said Melissa Thompson, CEO and Founder of TalkSession. Thompson’s statement resounds with the prediction from the Kelly Outsourcing & Consulting Group, which see 160 million patients in the U.S. being monitored and treated remotely for at least one chronic condition by 2020.

Here a few questions to consider as the healthcare industry begins to make the transition to more digital healthcare solutions:

  • How can medical professionals use existing communication channels to help provide care to underserved areas?
  • Can consumer technologies be used to connect general practice technicians with both patients and specialists to enable a more distributed model of care?
  • How do emerging diagnostics and monitoring technologies fit within this remote system of healthcare?
  • What impact does this have on environments like pharmacies and other where patients can go to receive care?
  • How can healthcare companies organize a range of on-demand providers to enable them to deliver an accurate and timely level of remote care?
  • What impact do these virtual check-ins in have on current healthcare plans in terms of pricing and access?

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 Sara Roncero-Menendez

Photos by HealthSpot, SolutionZinc


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