Dr. Saxon wrote an article entitled “How Wireless Technology Will Change Global Health” in September 2010.
Her article is very provocative because in the article she outlines uses for iPhones and iPads which could change the way we treat patients. She describes using the iPhone to monitor a heart patient’s blood pressure, pulse, etc. through streaming on these devices. This would allow doctors to have a more precise and live update on his or her patient so as to make change immediately as necessary.
Hence, office visits would change. In other words, instead of coming to the office to be diagnosed and treated accordingly, one would just have his or her doctor communicate to him by streaming on an iPhone or such devices.
Dr. Saxon also mentions that heart conditions, such as congestive heart failure are a major reason for hospitalizations or readmissions to the hospital. The common picture is that the person has an exacerbation of his chronic condition and ends up in the hospital, gets treated and has his medication adjusted, and then discharged home again. Using this scenario, she suggest that if a person’s vital signs could be monitored by sensors from an iPhone for example, then he would know if his medications were handling his heart condition. And if it was not, then the patient could call his physician to intervene and possibly prevent a hospitalization, which is very costly.
She also mentions using these devices to warn patients of counterfeit medical drugs, which is common place, in third world countries and leads to worsening health care for the patient that uses such drugs. iPhones or iPads would allow drug approved labels to be identified and streamed to the patient inorder to protect them from harm. This technology could be used in this way and many other ways to allow physicians to be more effective, efficient, and competent in treating patients. I also believe in theory that this technology used in this way would tremendously decrease healthcare costs globally, not just in America.
This technology used in this fashion could aid in solving the shortage of physicians that we have been experiencing since the baby boomers have come of age in America. With access to more patients based on streaming through these devices, more patients per physician could be cared for competently.
I applaud Dr. Saxon’s pushing the envelope metaphorically speaking, but my concern is approval from the controlling institutions of medicine and the level of benevolence of the creators of this technology. She mentions that it could be done because there are 5 billion people with cell phones now. So this technology should and could be made available to people and countries from all socioeconomic strata. The almighty dollar would have to take a back seat to helping others, which should be done. I believe health is a right not a privilege.
Finally, the details of maintaining patient confidentiality would have to be addressed, but it could be done!