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The Role of Doctors in the Wake of Digital Health & Automation

We are seeing a dramatic shift in the way healthcare is going to be delivered over the next decade, driven notably by disruptive technologies in the space and our embracing of automation. This includes such things as the application of new software & technologies in both labs and clinics, which can provide new means to do research, gather and interpret data, as well as interface with patients.


Forward-thinkers and visionaries in healthcare are already identifying the key trends in digital health resulting from these developments. For instance, robotics like drone technology are driving mobile health (mHealth) by improving the delivery of healthcare to remote or inaccessible areas; another example is the integration of machine learning and artificial intelligence in healthcare, allowing algorithms to decipher big data to help trial new drugs more quickly or to offer optimal treatment options to patients with more precision and speed.


All this may be changing the role of doctors. We think that those who stay abreast of such innovations, who are open to supporting them, and who take those crucial steps to adapt, will be the key players to help improve access and quality of care in our modern day.


In order to evolve, healthcare professionals – and patients, alike – need to embrace automation in healthcare and appreciate how it is impacting the patient-doctor relationship…and improving the quality of healthcare delivered overall.


The advent – and adoption – of automation in healthcare, however, is not replacing the role of the physician.  It is simply helping to shift the focus more onto the patient.


Digital health automation can allow doctors to spend more of their time providing the human touch necessary for providing optimal care – and in an environment that augments the results of their skills and abilities. The value of a doctor is one no computer can offer.


However, digital health can increase efficiencies at the clinic level by not only offering new treatments and medical devices, but also by helping doctors think and apply their unique skills better.


Automation can help supply doctors with greater insights by helping them better gather information and make use of big (or bigger) data. One such example is the CAPTURE registry which the Southern Health Centre’s Fibroid Care Clinic is partaking in, to help aggregate hundreds of patient data points to derive insights into fibroid care in Canada; another is Pathways, a database of specialists in BC that has been pulled together to help family doctors make better referrals.


Furthermore, much of the pedantic and administrative work required for such data collection and storage can also be be “done for the doctor” through automation. One example is the EHR (electronic health record) – of course, so long as doctors, patients, as well as healthcare organizations are willing to partake. It is our hope that in due time, taking patient history and documenting observations into records will no longer be as much an MD’s job as will be the application of the learnings and capabilities that new tech puts into the hands of our medical experts.


“The trend is toward incorporating these digital health principles and helping them work together.”


At another level, a clinical visit may also look quite different thanks to telehealth and mHealth. Already, medical ventures (like Vancouver’s virtual care technology company, Medeo, acquired by QHR Technologies) have made remote assessments and appointments in the privacy of a patient’s home possible – via the convenience of a mobile device in hand. This improves access for the purpose of driving early diagnosis, shorter wait times, and better prevention and care through on-demand medical check-ins. Hardware improvements and new software also have a role to play here in helping to improve the patient experience.


According to our Founder and Medical Director of Southern Health Centre, Dr. Roy Jackson, “The trend is toward incorporating these digital health principles and helping them work together.” One large part of this will require careful collaboration between governmental and business bodies to ensure such innovations have both the institutional and financial support to grow and become real. The other part will be the medical community’s ability to foster trust and transparency when working with business on integrating new technologies.


Our team here at Romich Group really believes that MDs as well as patients need to embrace healthcare innovations to drive the industry – and human health – forward, but this cannot be done without sustainable business models and sound investments into innovative solutions that can only be found when people and technology work together.

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