The practice of medicine is quickly evolving to support the needs and expectations of the new generation of doctors entering the profession and patients requiring care.
These doctors expect to use technology and work in team environments. They want electronic medical records and smartphone technology. In addition, they want to share the workload with other doctors and care providers on the team.
While the millennial and Gen X doctors are already prepared for it, and arguably driving the evolution, many practising physicians are already making waves in the area of medical innovation, not only advocating for the future of medicine but pushing boundaries to initiate the change here and now.
And the change is welcomed by patients all over Canada. In fact, more than a third of Canadians believe that mobile health apps will make health care more convenient in the next three years. This makes sense considering nearly every other aspect of our lives have become mobile, from planning social events, to managing personal finances, to securing and heating our homes. We can do it all from our fingertips and we can do it all on the go.
Why should Canadians have different expectations when it comes to managing their health care?
They shouldn’t. At least not according to physicians like Dr. Michael Dunbar. He’s embraced the power technology can have in transforming the health-care system and improving care for his patients.
Dr. Dunbar is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in arthroplasty. He wants Nova Scotia to lead the country through medical innovation and technology. And he’s developed an app to make it happen.
The wait list for knee and hip replacement surgeries is long.
Patients can wait years to see an orthopaedic surgeon, only to be told they don’t require surgery but need physiotherapy or another form of treatment. Such patients are then cycled back to their family doctor to explore other treatment options. The result is unsatisfied, frustrated and discouraged patients.
“We can do better. There is huge opportunity here to have some vision and change,” says Dr. Dunbar.
Dr. Dunbar, along with a team of specialists, nurses, allied health care workers and hospital management is developing several technologies, including smartphone technology to improve access for orthopaedic patients, deliver more personalized care, and gain higher satisfaction from both patients and doctors.
Enter the Gait Monitoring System (GMS).
“This mobile app is being designed to bring the evaluation to the patient without travel or wait time. It can measure a patient’s gait just like I would in a face-to-face consultation,” he explained.
For patients who require surgery, the GMS will speed up the process that leads to it. In the long run, it will save patients time and travel expenses by replacing follow-up hospital visits with the smartphone app that’s easily accessed from anywhere at any time.
And for those who don’t require surgery, the GMS app will help the team screen patients in the wait list, so that rather than waiting for a face-to-face visit, they’ll be able to explore other care options with their family doctor much sooner.
This kind of vision and innovation exemplifies the modern-day physician.
Do you see a place for technology, such as virtual doctor visits and remote monitoring in your own health care management? Leave a comment and tell us about it.