I had a wonderful Skype session with Dr. Jennifer Shine Dyer right after Thanksgiving. It was so good that I have been talking about one of her off-hand comments almost every day since then. Since you are going to have to wait for her installment on the Vanguards of Health Innovation Skype Series….let’s start with something that I don’t think should wait.
Dr. Shine Dyer is a pediatric endocrinologist and as such, has the privilege of taking care of teenagers who are diabetic. Now, those of you who have ever spent time with teens know how hard it is to get them to do anything–let alone get a straight answer out of them. So imagine trying to cheer lead them into checking their blood sugar and figuring out if they actually checked it in between visits.
Her trials and tribulations of trying to care for diabetic teens led her to create the EndoGoddess app (great product BTW). As she was sharing her story, she said something that has kept me up at night and talking to everyone I know about this.
She started texting her teen patients to remind them to check their blood sugar and then used her her research training to document better long-term blood sugar control after her texting campaign began. After a while she asked her teens for feedback and in passing asked them if they thought she was a cool doctor for texting them.
They were unimpressed. This is what they expect in terms of communication.
My brain started spinning immediately.
I’m a self-described medium to late adopter of technology. My family had a working 8-track player (and used it ALL DAY on Christmas day) until a few years ago when it died.
Her patients are not going to be teenagers forever. How can we honestly still be delivering healthcare in a 1950s era model? It’s not like we don’t know the system is outdated.
Her peers consider her on the cutting edge of technology and medicine. Which is great and true. But what we need are her peers to follow her lead.
Everyone doesn’t need to design their own app, but clinicians should understand that in the 21st century it is imperative to figure out how to integrate technology into their practice.
On average, an elderly person with 5 or more chronic diseases sees 14 unique doctors, visits their office 37 times, and fills 50 drug prescriptions per year.
That is a lot for a paper chart and human brains to keep track of.
There is hope:
- 2010 marked a tipping point where 50.7% of out-pt practices were using EMRs.
- 38% of physicians with smartphones use medical apps apps on a daily basis, with that number increasing to 50% in the next twelve months.
- Meaningful Use for EHRs is being rolled out
What inspires me about Dr. Shine Dyer, is that she saw an opportunity to meaningfully impact her patients’ care and acted. She already had an EMR. EMRs won’t save the world—it’s how we as clinicians use the technology in a relevant and meaningful way in partnership with our patients that will.
We live in an era of data overload. It goes one way or 5 thousand ways. What I would love to hear more about, are situations in which we get the data, do something about it and improve health as a result.