Joseph C. Kvedar, M.D., director of the Center for Connected Health at Partners HealthCare System in Boston, opened the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.
Dr. Kvedar is the author of “The Internet of Healthy Things,” a book that describes how technology can be used to improve healthcare delivery.
He demonstrated the concept by using SAM virtual support. SAM's job was to intervene and remind the patient, for example, not have that cookie by saying “Save the calories for wine at dinner, Joe." Or, SAM served as a reminder that your favorite exercise activity was on sale for half price at the gym. This is a fantastic idea.
SAM connects work and life schedules with personal goals. He reminds users to walk a little after lunch since your next meeting doesn't start for another 15 minutes, for example. It is a brilliant and innovative way to deliver healthcare to device-addicted patients. This is a fantastic way of giving patients the ability to dominate their health and stay on track, while feeling in control the entire time.
I found myself nodding feverishly to Dr. Kvedar's statement that patients do not want to disappoint their physicians, which I've found that to be true. I've had patients miss an appointment because they didn't take their new medication or go to their referred consultation. Instead, they'll miss our visit and present at the next visit as if we didn't just miss a month.
Patients feel palpable tension in the exam room if they didn't do as they were told. Their guilt hangs in the air with heaviness. That's why they feel it's easier to skip an appointment.
By integrating this new technology, patients will feel a greater sense of strength in making the right decision. I think of it as a pocket coach who has a voice and your best interests at heart.
We live in progressive times. It's OK to modify our approach to patient care, which I think is necessary. By integrating this idea our reach as physicians will not stop at the door of a scheduled 99213 encounter.
Our advice and recommendations will be ushered into the patient’s home. We’ll be able to rouse them during their morning breakfast meeting or afternoon slump. I owe Dr. Kvedar and his team a thank you for taking on this enormous task.