Smartphones can bridge gaps in access, patient monitoring: innovator

Mobile technologies, measuring the patient experience and medication that comes with its own software are among the key drivers for better healthcare outcomes of the future, an international speaker will tell an upcoming digital health conference.

Mobile technologies, measuring the patient experience and medication that comes with its own software are among the key drivers for better healthcare outcomes of the future, an international speaker will tell an upcoming digital health conference.

Thomas Goetz
Thomas Goetz

While the digital divide has largely been bridged through the rise of internet-enabled smart phones, the larger issue now is access to services, which can be thought of as the “analog divide”, said Thomas Goetz, co-founder of digital health startup Iodine.

“What is so powerful now is there’s a potential for mobile technologies to bridge what might be called the analog divide,” Mr Goetz told Technology Review.

Mr Goetz is a journalist, author, and former executive editor of Wired Magazine, where he said he recognised the power of information technology to drive costs down and increasingly reach more people, and subsequently became interested in that dynamic coming to healthcare.

At Iodine, he said they were developing mobile apps and web tools to help people understand if their therapy was working based on the self-reporting of their own experience. The Iodine digital tools also combine clinical research with comparative real-life experience through user-reviews to help people make more informed decisions.

While the healthcare system was good at measuring clinical values and messages – things that matter to the doctor, hospital and clinical practice – it wasn’t good at monitoring the patient experience, Mr Goetz said.

However, mobile technologies were effective at capturing that, he said, and healthcare systems worldwide now needed to figure out the correlation between personal reported experience and clinical measures, and where those correlations and connections could be made.

“That is going to be the really powerful opportunity to connect what is happening at home to the clinical world,” Mr Goetz said.

“That is the next frontier. We know that people will use wearables. We know that many people will use apps, especially if they are well-designed. We know that medicine is not doing a very good job at capturing what is happening in the real world.”

He said a wave of innovation had begun from many companies starting to figure out how to connect the patient experience with clinical measures.

In this space, Iodine launched a medication monitoring and adherence program for anti-depressants two months ago called Start, which has turned the monitoring that a physician should be doing into a software algorithm, Mr Goetz said.

“There is a great amount of failure of follow up. Not a lot of people own that. We are trying to own that with software and trying to create an experience that will, in some sense, bridge the patient experience between visits and enhance the physician encounter when it does happen.

“This is especially promising for ageing populations because access, remote monitoring and all of those things are really coming into fruition now with mobile technology.”

Mr Goetz predicted a future where an app will accompany all medications to help the user monitor its effectiveness.

“We think it is the future of medications; every medication should come with the software that tells you if it is working or not.”

Thomas Goetz is presenting at The Digital Health Show conference in Sydney on 1 April 2016.  AAA and Technology Review readers are entitled to a 20 per cent discount off registration fees. Use VIP code AAA when registering at www.digitalhealthshow.com.au. A further discount applies for health professionals and startups. Check the website for details.

Australian Ageing Agenda and Technology Review is a media partner for The Digital Health Show.

Tags: iodine, patient-experience, smartphone, the-digital-health-show, Thomas-Goetz,

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