#1. Isolation & Loss of Human Touch
Yes, patients need technology and progressive medical devices to manage their health. But they also need to be seen, listened to, and cared for (physically) by other people, including doctors, nurses and caregivers. Empathy and compassion – a warm smile, a kind word, or a re-assuring tone are equally important in bringing about health and wellness.
I worry that too much focus on digital healthcare, (and conversely too few in-person experiences between doctors and patients) might lead to feelings of isolation, remoteness and even doubt.
Patients who are more passive in nature may even resist the shift to greater personal responsibility and technology-based guidance. The result: They end up feeling like they don’t really have any support to manage their health.
#2. Marginalization of the Poor
While we can all agree that significant advantages are being realized through ehealth products and services, we also have to admit that these technologies mostly benefit those who have access to greater resources.
In fact a 2007 study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine warned that significant challenges must be addressed by the research community to assure that advances in e-health will help eliminate, not intensify health disparities.
I know it’s hard to believe, but there are many people in this country who don’t have access to the Internet, or even a home computer. How will e-health reach these people? The fact is, people or communities with limited access to digital technology are largely the same as those suffering the greatest health disparities and traditionally underserved by the healthcare system.
#3. Information overload
Today, patients are more empowered. They have access to information that can help them make better decisions about their health – in an ideal world.
But as the volume of personal health and wellness data from medical devices, smartphone apps, and even EMR’s increases, patients will be faced with information overload and some may find it hard to act upon.
For passive patients in particular, having too much information at their disposal might actually lead to inaction rather than action, because they’re used to simply following doctor’s orders. In addition to being sick they now have the added burden of figuring out what their health data means and what to do about it.
What do you think?
Via Parag Vora