Can technology transform chronic disease management?
Implementing best practice care for patients with chronic diseases is one of the greatest challenges currently facing primary care providers. Although digital health technology is hailed for all its potential, could it improve the ability of primary care and internal medicine specialists to help these patients?
Cue digital health technology, which includes remote monitoring, mobile health (mHealth) apps, and wearables, such as activity trackers. There are myriad options on the market, but are any of these particularly beneficial for use by the healthcare professional?
Medical News Today asked primary care and internal medicine specialists how they use digital health technology in their daily practice and about their views on its potential for revolutionising chronic disease management.
While they acknowledged that new technology has great potential to provide high-quality care, they did not hesitate to emphasise the barriers that prevent its widespread uptake by clinicians and patients.
Remote monitoring: An early success?
Wireless remote monitoring of patients’ vital signs and symptoms was generally perceived as an attractive option by primary care providers (PCPs).
This type of monitoring can help with early intervention when specific symptoms are detected. It also allows the patient to be actively involved and engaged in the monitoring process.
One of the most successful digital tools currently in use is for managing heart failure, noted Suzanne Falck M.D., associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine.
In these cases, data from an implanted sensor are directly transmitted to a healthcare professional, who can then use these data to advice about medication, lifestyle, additional clinic visits, or recommendations to visit their PCP or the emergency room.
Medical apps increasing in popularity
As 77 percent of all U.S. adults own smartphones and around half own tablet computers, “mobile technology has the potential to make a huge impact on the management of chronic disease,” Judith Marcin M.D., a family practice specialist in Chicago, told MNT. Patient-facing health apps “can be an excellent way to empower people to take a more active role in their own healthcare,” she added.