The future of Patient Empowerment — part 1

Definition and vision

Patient Empowerment is a person’s active participation in the critical decision management processes of a patient’s disease. Patients that are empowered become active participants, and not passive recipients, of the caring process.

Additionally, a truly empowered patient will collect his own health-related data, and chose which caregiver to grant access to that data.

Or in other words:

Patients will register their health data on their own devices, within the comfort of their homes, and share it over the internet in a secure way with the caregivers of their choice.

After the trend of employees doing their work on their own devices, patients will use their own devices to assist in the medical diagnosis process.

The empowered patient’s ecosystem will look like this:

  • A patient collects heart rate, glucosis, bloodpressure, … via a bluetooth connected device
  • The device transfers the data to the HealthKit API
  • The patient uses an app to select which data to share with a particular caregiver

The role of Health(Kit)

Apple’s Health(Kit) is IMHO the best choice for a mobile health repository on smartphones, as it goes beyond the typical fitness and workout data, but is able to actually store health related information in a secure way.

Imagine a patiënt using an iphone and a bluetooth bloodpressure device… The patiënt can register his actual blood pressure whenever he wants or on a schedule agreed with his physician. He can collect data during moments that he perceives as most critical to support the physicians diagnostics.

Once a day, week, month, right before a consultation, … he can send off the registered data to his physician and the physician’s software would automatically add the registered values to the patient’s file.

The physician has immediate access to the patiënt’s historical data at the start of a consultation or examination and can collect his own data if he choses to.

The benefits

  1. A patient can collect data whenever he choses, of course using a frequency in agreement with his physician
  2. A patient can collect the data at home, or in another place of his choice
  3. The physician has access to a larger dataset for his diagnosis
  4. The physician can easier see relations between different data types
  5. A patient can collect data when he feels it’s most critical to support his ‘story’ or ‘to make his point’

Where not quite there yet

It’s all futuristic for now, but I’m convinced that we’ll end up in this situation in the not-so-distant future. The actual building blocks are already appearing and several companies, like Apple, are offering solutions to assist in this evolution.

In a next post, I’ll share with you the source code I wrote to get you started with HealthKit.