Life is busy, and sometimes routine tasks get lost in the daily grind. It’s all too common to forget about a doctor’s appointment or take a prescribed medication. These things happen to everyone from time to time, but we now have technology to help us keep track of these mundane – but crucial – tasks. From wearables to smartphones, we have unlimited opportunities to make technology work for us.
The 21st century patient experience is defined by unprecedented access to information and care. Patients expect more from their physicians, healthcare providers, and pharmaceutical companies. By utilizing technology, we can encourage patient adherence to treatment and provide greater access to resources to improve their everyday lives.
Mobile apps and online services can provide patients with this valuable information while empowering them to go about their normal routines. There are dozens of existing apps of this sort – including many more in development or soon-to-be released. Some are specific to certain diagnoses while others can help track a variety of health issues, but all are fundamentally changing the way patients view and live with treatment.
Any patient will tell you that an ALS diagnosis is a difficult one. It’s a debilitating disease that kick-started the ice bucket challenge two years ago to raise awareness and fund research for treatment. Fortunately, for the first time in 22 years, the FDA recently approved a treatment option for ALS, finally bringing hope to the community. But the approved treatment requires a complicated infusion schedule, which makes patient adherence a challenge.
To address this, a complementary mobile app, Searchlight Support, was created to equip ALS patients with the tools needed to take control of their treatment. Searchlight Support guides patients through the highs and lows of beginning and continuing treatment. It provides them with resources to educate them on their condition, removing some of the uncertainty surrounding diagnosis. And further, appointment reminders help patients seamlessly integrate their treatment into their daily schedules.
Searchlight Support’s focus on mindfulness sets it apart from apps of its kind. The ALS diagnosis can be difficult to process, and Searchlight Support works to relieve some common tension and anxiety. It provides meditations and games to reduce stress and pass time during infusions. It also has a place to document daily affirmations and engage with a community of care team members.
Mobile applications like Searchlight Support are a great example of what technology can bring to the patient experience: an easy-to-use, streamlined tool that allows patients to focus on living with their condition rather than being controlled by it.
The Man Plan
Patients being treated for prostate cancer are unfortunately forced to deal with a number of discouraging side effects, including loss of libido, cardiovascular risks and muscle atrophy. Prostate cancer patients often feel drained from treatment and may not have the energy to get to the gym – but research shows that exercise can actually help them feel better.
To combat this, AbbVie created The Man Plan, an interactive platform that provides patients with workout programs to help manage their symptoms. In addition to a DVD, a manual and exercise bands, patients are granted access to an online community to view step-by-step workout plans. They are also automatically set up with a certified exercise physiologist who tracks each patient’s progress as well as a special counselor who develops a personal relationship with the patient and encourages them at every step of their journey. The online community allows the patient to connect with other patients to share stories and offer tips.
After an initial launch that was met with enthusiasm, The Man Plan was rolled out nationally and is currently helping hundreds of men manage the difficult side effects of prostate cancer treatment.
DigiCare is another great example of how technology is fundamentally improving the patient experience. This mobile adherence platform helps individuals manage multiple support programs. It is completely patient-centric and focuses on human engagement – it includes the option to call, video-call and chat with a nurse or healthcare provider. By leveraging the latest in artificial intelligence and telemedicine, this direct and on-demand information is helpful for any sudden questions or concerns that might arise during treatment. This type of support can be incredibly calming during an otherwise taxing period.
Additionally, DigiCare leverages several services to focus on holistic treatment: it allows patients to report their progress and side-effects, track moods and pain and monitor their physical activity. Moreover, it has a feature to easily refill prescriptions, make appointments and set reminders – almost like a personal assistant. All of this is stored in a secure online database, so patients have one place to go to access all of the information about their treatment.
Technology Redefining Patient Care
DigiCare’s multi-platform services, as well as the offerings by Searchlight Support and The Man Plan, offer a glimpse into the breadth of what patient treatment can be – and what it should be. With an increasingly diverse array of technologies, patient care is being redefined. As technology continues to advance, we can expect to see even more collaboration with treatments, ensuring that patients get the 21st century 24/7 care and support they need – and deserve.