One more step in changing the patient:doctor relationship

We have written extensively in recent months about how technology is changing the way patients are using doctors, yet some, notably the RCGP in their vision of GP practice in 2022, seem unprepared, or unwilling to accept this. Well if more evidence of the coming change were needed, AliveCor’s announcement that it now has FDA approval for sales of its (iOS & Android) smartphone-enabled heart monitor direct to the public will perhaps provide some.

In particular, the announcement includes a service – available in the US only at present – called AliveInsights, that will return an interpretation of any trace sent to it for as little as $2 (for the ‘cardiac technician’ option). How long, one wonders, before the app does the interpretation itself, as high-end ECG machines already do (and, after a shaky start before the machine learning got to work, are said now to be more accurate than cardiologists).

AliveCor began as a physician-only app + peripheral, perhaps a path that the recently released Android version of the Diagnose app will also follow? Currently this free app is described by iMedicalApps as:

…a medical app available for both Android and iOS that attempts to aid physicians in the difficult task of providing evidence based diagnosis through the use of pre and post-test probabilities and likelihood ratios.

iMedicalApps concludes:

  • Diagnose is an excellent app for evidence based practice and its calculating system will surely be helpful.
  • If the developers would have added a small tutorial about evidence based medicine with a few lines on likelihood ratios, the app would be perfect.

High praise indeed – how long before a patient-focused version appears too?

The RCGP is not alone in the timidity of its vision though – BUPA recently released an infographic of Mobile Health in 2024 that doesn’t even mention smartphones despite the fact that one wall in the house in the picture appears to be one, and reminds us of such old favourites as the smart toilet (hopefully, in view of what they expect it to do, it’ll be smart enough to tell the difference between the owners of the various backsides placed on it). Don’t be fooled though – at a recent BUPA/ITU event I was shown some extremely exciting smartphone-based developments by BUPA currently being trialled that will further encourage patient empowerment. Watch this space…and in the meantime try not to get too concerned about how some of the facts in the infographic appear to have so little relationship to their linked topic – for example diabetes and smart nappies.

(Talking of smart nappies, a sign of the times is that Tokyo University has now developed a sensor for adult nappies, perhaps in response to the news that one company in Japan is now selling more adult disposable nappies than ones for babies).

 

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