Connected health: the win-win future for professionals and patients

Le 23 May 2017

Health professionals are always on the lookout for developments in methods, techniques and practices in their discipline. Today we are living in a world where technology is omnipresent in our daily life and it is not surprising, especially after the success of connected objects, that the health sector is affected. Connected health is beneficial and promising both for prevention and monitoring of a  patient. Normally, any technological innovation provokes positive, but also triggers fears that need to be addressed. Connected health is no exception and today represents a promising future, a sign of a new patient/doctor relationship and a new way for patients to understand their health. 

Connected health serving an optimised patient/doctor relationship

Healthcar3 professionals today cannot ignore the existence of connected health products or their benefits for their patients. Connected objects must especially be seen now as tools that allow doctors to maintain a link with their patients when they return home: after a consultation, to allow the observation of a patient’s vital signs and adaptation of treatments; or following hospitalisation, to reduce the time of their stay in hospital and remotely monitor development of these vital signs. However, we sense a legitimate reluctance from healthcare professionals. Not with regards to the reliability of the products, since they are clinically validated according to the regulation which governs medical equipment, a label of trust for consumers. But they fear an avalanche of data to be processed and the responsibility to consult on this data. 

However, healthcare professionals need to see this as a real interest, especially in the personalised support that connected health can offer. The number of people needing personalised and regular medical monitoring is increasing in proportion with rising life expectancy. The goal of tomorrow’s medical tools is to simplify exchanges between health professionals and patients. Understood and well used, the resulting benefits are to lighten the load on overwhelmed healthcare professionals and to preserve patient autonomy. 

The digital world applied to health: a formidable tool for prevention and monitoring

After connected devices to monitor activity (activity watches and wristbands), connected medical devices for health monitoring and prevention (then management) of chronic diseases are only a logical next step. Today, 73% of people in France appreciate the connected health sector when it comes to the practical utility of connected devices (OpinionWay Study for the #DistreeConnect fair). 

For example, high blood pressure is not always detected in patients and taking blood pressure is not an automatic apart from a visit to the doctor. One in three adults suffer from high blood pressure and 50% of patients suffering from this chronic disease are not controlled (WHO 2013 figures). It is important to know that taking blood pressure in the doctor’s office does not always show it, depending on the time of the appointment or even the so-called “white coat” effect. Blood pressure is best taken after a few minutes of rest and preferably when getting up in the morning or before going to bed in the evening. Self-measurement by the patient is then the best way for the doctor to have an accurate picture of the patient’s blood pressure. The “connected” approach offers the possibility for the patient to provide his doctor with an entire history of data over a specific period which will improve monitoring and the relationship with his doctor. For diabetic patients (382 million worldwide according to the WHO), connected devices will improve their daily life considerably – no more little notebooks where each measurement is recorded by hand. The data is automatically recorded in a mobile app and the patient can access them at any time and share them securely with their doctor. With a follow-up of their patients that is more regular, more complete and more responsive, doctors will have more data for diagnosis or adapting treatments.

Visits to the doctor will be more optimal and efficient with daily measurement and an unprecedented data history, which will allow for the detection and management of chronic diseases, often called “silent diseases”, which today are often only identified when it is too late.

Favouring an effective telemedicine system

Connected health is still in its infancy and has yet to show its full potential. In the coming years, it will help combat “medical deserts”. It also helps to improve a key issue with our health system, the patient’s journey to the hospital. Telemedicine tends to be developed more and more to meet specific goals: improving access to care, improving the quality of care, reducing serious events and improving patient quality of life. Connected health represents a formidable asset for health professionals in exercising their functions and is contributing to the development of telemedicine. 

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