Visiting the doctor of the future will be like having coffee with a friend. here’s why

Editor’s Note: Robert Rohatsch is Solv Health’s Chief Medical Officer.

The rapid adoption of digital health technologies like telemedicine, asynchronous chat, and wearable diagnostic devices is seen by some as an existential threat to the future of general practice. And it’s true – there’s a tectonic shift underway in the American healthcare landscape. I often warn my friends and fellow GPs that clinging to the traditional model of outpatient care is a one-way ticket to obsolescence.

But when I look at the digital technologies that disintermediate the relationship between GPs and patients, I don’t just see cool gadgets and consumerized software replacing GPs. On the contrary, I see highly empowered physicians with the potential to finally fix what has long been broken in our healthcare system and do more good than ever before.

As a physician and tech entrepreneur who has worked on both the provider side and the payer side, I have a pretty good understanding of how American healthcare works. I argue that the digital transformation of healthcare will finally help GPs get back to what most of us really want to do in the first place – keeping patients healthy. But only if we allow it. Here is what I mean:

There are five ways doctors can let patients down

General practitioners are responsible for triage, low-acuity care, chronic care, medical coordination, and preventive care. Regardless of our capabilities and commitment, peak performance in these five areas is simply not possible for independent practitioners and small clinics. As a result, most GPs tend to really excel in a few of the five areas and strive to provide at least adequate care in the others.

The unfortunate results are well known: long wait times, little valuable time between patients and doctors, confusing and sometimes incorrect communications, and too little attention to preventive care. The struggle to master the five areas of responsibility makes physicians feel overworked and exhausted, and leaves patients confused and neglected.

Digital health technologies ease the burden on general practitioners

Digital health technologies are doing for ambulatory healthcare what other B2B, cloud-based and API-first technologies have already done for other industries.

Telemedicine and asynchronous chat, for example, can handle much of the triage work. Remotely connected blood glucose monitors, digital blood pressure cuffs, and consumer smartwatches can record and analyze vital signs to help manage chronic conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Technologies like these are already making it easy and cost-effective for GPs to harness patient health data and information without advanced skills or expensive infrastructure. For GPs, this means greater certainty and reduced time investment in the five areas of their competence. For patients, this means receiving convenient, cost-effective, quality care when and how they need it, as they would expect in any other industry.

Digital health technologies are on a tear, getting better every day, with the benefit of billions of investments of the business community. In the coming years, we will see the democratization of existing diagnostic technologies such as genetic, epigenetic and microbiomic testing, as well as the consumerization of newer technologies such as embedded sensors, retinal scanning glasses and nanorobots. . Before long, much of what GPs and diagnostic labs do today will be supported by on-demand third-party services and devices.

When GPs have such easy access to best-in-class solutions in most five areas of ambulatory care, they will be freed from many of the burdens they carry today.

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