Overview: Biotechnology is an exciting pathway to improving healthcare outcomes and solving healthcare challenges. This article looks at Biotechnology in the patients’ hands rather than at Centers of Excellence or Research Centers. It further takes a different perspective: from the patient who has few, if any, technology resources and little, if any, technology training. How does the patient with few resources and little training leverage biotechnology in his or her life, in their home and in their healthcare journey?
What if we designed biotechnical solutions (the technology, the protocols and the support) for such a group of patients? How much might we move the healthcare needle for these individuals. We often talk about engaging the patient by meeting them where they are. Does this not also mean meeting them where they are along the technology continuum?
Lessons Learned for those lacking technology resources, training and support.
- The patient has to understand the value of technology and receive the support they need, where and when they need it.
- In person and remote facilitators provide the support, advocacy and confidence patients need to embrace biotechnology.
- Assume the patient has no technology resources or training. Anything they do have will be a big plus.
- Keep it simple. Accept the fact that the plan may take time and deploy over stages.
- Leverage whatever resources or training the patient has.
- Be prepared to teach a patient the same protocol ten times, if necessary.
Biotechnology in the hands of the patient
The US is not alone in facing an access problem for healthcare. Patients have difficulty getting appointments, making it to them and accessing the specialty care they need. When in rural America, physician deserts or urban areas where office hours are so limited that workers cannot be seen. Today, care in the home is becoming a focal point for many organizations. Without technology, care in the home may offer a mere skeleton of what is possible. Can specialists and hospital-based physicians really take the time to travel to a patient home? Not in any present reality. Perhaps a real-life example will work.
Text Box: A premature child who spent 53 days in the PICU is being discharged today. Mom lives more than 30 miles form the hospital in a rural area. It is unrealistic to expect her to bring the child back to the hospital for checkups. The staff has assured me that everything has been explained to mom. Mom has assured me that all she did was pray that her child would leave the hospital alive, and she heard nothing from the staff.
A visit with the neonatologist is essential but the neonatologist cannot leave the hospital for a house call. Using technology, a NICU nurse, equipped with video telehealth, a digital stethoscope, camera and equipment to measure vital signs visits the patient. The nurse facilitates a telehealth visit with the neonatologist in a real time setting. The visit includes everything that would occur in an office setting. Mom is able to see the neonatologist, ask questions, develop a joint care plan for her child with the physician, nurse and other members of the care team. The technology alone, without the nurse facilitator, would be only partially successful. End of Text Box.
The New World
- Pulse Oximeter, BP, Camera
Den, I would add a snapshot of what is available from new vendors like chatbots, remote monitoring, wearable devices for patients, and Machine learning and AI-supported diagnosis to facilitate care in homes.