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Doctors, patients differ over technology’s role in health care


Patients favor remote blood pressure monitoring and wearable devices, but doctors don’t think they improve care

remote health monitoring images ©elenabsl-stock.adobe.com


With the ongoing evolution of the health care landscape, integration of digital tools and technologies has become increasingly critical for patients, physicians and health care leaders in achieving a personalized and digitized future. While telemedicine often tops physicians’ lists as the most important technological advance, patients have a very different perspective. In the latest installment of our global, multi-year “Beyond Intervention” research series, we discovered that most patients find technology helpful in managing their health condition, while physicians and health care leaders exhibited a more cautious approach.

As health and wellness tools proliferate, health care leaders and physicians that embrace monitoring devices and digital tools have an opportunity to improve patient outcomes: these tools can offer the means to monitor a broad spectrum of disease states and vital signs such as arrhythmia, blood pressure and blood glucose surveillance.

However, maximizing outcomes requires buy-in from all stakeholders, and although two-thirds of surveyed patients are comfortable sharing their data, fewer than a quarter of physicians are prepared to use digital health solutions for monitoring and ensuring compliance. Collaboration among all parties is necessary to unlock the full potential of digital tools and technologies and drive meaningful change.

Diverging Viewpoints

One of the sharpest differences in opinion between patients, physicians and health care leaders is in the ranking of the top technologies: patients chose remote blood pressure monitoring, which appeared at the bottom of both physician and health care leaders’ priorities. Patients ranked wearable technologies second, yet these didn’t even land on either physicians’ or health care leaders’ top three list. Conversely, physicians and health care leaders felt that an emergency call button was a high priority technology, while patients didn’t rank this at all.

In prioritizing technologies that provide real-time, granular data on recovery, progress and adherence, patients reaffirm their interest in a truly personalized approach to care and self-monitoring. While we are all justifiably obsessed with the volume of data that we can acquire to drive analytic functions and power predictive algorithms, let’s consider another, equally important aspect to remote patient monitoring and wearables: the potential to alter behaviors. With the insights from their own monitoring, patients are empowered to participate in their care and transform behaviors and lifestyle choices related to improved health outcomes.

In terms of data sharing, our survey reveals that most patients are comfortable (or even eager) to share data from monitoring devices with their physicians, with the aim of improving their own care and that of others. However, the value of sharing data is not embraced by the physician community. Only about a third of doctors report that such data would help deliver better care. However, this attitude may result from post-pandemic physician burnout, workforce shortages and health system financial strain, resulting in a paucity of time to review, assess and utilize data from patients’ consumer technologies. This is where machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) come into play.

Harnessing the power of AI

The impact of AI technologies is already evident in the health care sector, especially in the realms of automated image and signal analysis (radiology, ECGs, etc.) Around two-thirds of patients and half of all health care leaders said they would not only trust AI to make the correct diagnosis, but also to recommend the best treatment plan. Perhaps less persuaded by the technology, most physicians do not feel the same way: only a third would put their trust in AI.

As health care innovators continue to build on, expand and optimize the datasets used to train AI, we can envision a world in which such technology may be able to analyze and assess massive volumes of consumer health data, and to deliver comprehensive and valuable highlights to physicians–simultaneously reducing the burden on health care providers while offering actionable insights.

Therefore, when evaluating health technologies designed to complement the care administered by physicians, health care leaders might consider adopting digital and data analytic tools that are time-efficient and effective for both the patient and the physician, and that can be integrated and operationalized within existing health and electronic health record system infrastructures.

Through the integration of technology into patient care, physicians can empower patients to be actively involved in their treatment decisions, enhancing cohesion and satisfaction. Smart consumer devices in turn facilitate patient-centric health care, improving engagement and empowerment. In the ever-evolving landscape of health care, embracing technology as an integral part of the care process is paramount. By bridging the divide between patients, physicians and health care leaders, we can strive for a future where health care and consumer technologies merge seamlessly, resulting in improved health outcomes.

Connie Baumgard, MSc, is director, US medical affairs at Abbott’s vascular business

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