Smartphone technology is changing the way patients interact with their health. Soon, patients could start accessing medical records and monitoring diseases with a few swipes across a screen. Diagnoses could extend outside of the traditional check-up appointment.
These changes are happening quickly. Diabetes apps track blood glucose levels to reduce risk for future complications, a video game is being tested for identifying attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and Apple recently rolled out a new addition to its Health app, granting hundreds of patients’ access to their medical history.
“[A]ny time you can put information in patients’ and doctors’ hands and allow there to be more informed decision making, that is the best of all,” Robert Harrington, MD, interventional cardiologist and chairman of the Department of Medicine at Stanford in California, said in Apple’s announcement of the update. “[The app is] an important maneuver for patient empowerment and the way the world needs to be.”1
Patients tend to handle treatment better if they start with a solid understanding of their illness. Tracking health and medical history not only helps with treatment but also increases the chance of catching errors.
In the future, as more patients share their medical experiences, new users can learn from that information database.
According to a recent article published in the Economist,2 “Future AIs could, for instance, provide automated medical diagnosis from a description of your symptoms, spot behavioural traits that suggest you are depressed or identify if you are at special risk of cardiac disease. The aggregation of data will also make it easier for you to find other people with similar diseases and to see how they responded to various treatments.”
- Doctors put patients in charge with Apple’s Health Records feature. Apple Newsroom. March 29, 2018. https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2018/03/doctors-put-patients-in-charge-with-apples-health-records-feature/. Accessed July 10, 2018.
- A revolution in healthcare is coming. Economist. February 1, 2018. https://www.economist.com/leaders/2018/02/01/a-revolution-in-health-care-is-coming. Accessed July 10, 2018.