Technology is not only bringing more benefits to patients in the pharmacy, but it’s also offering them a host of products so they can be more involved in their health care. This was a theme at the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs’ educational summit, “Leveraging New Technologies: Impact on the Patient and the Healthcare Industry,” on Feb. 8 in Las Vegas.
Devices from blood-glucose monitors to personal EKG machines have been around for a while, but now these products talk to each other. They also tie in with exercise machines and physical activity monitors to send information to a patient’s smart phone. This allows patients to monitor their own health and easily send snapshots of health data to a physician, caregiver or pharmacist.
Combining physical activity and health monitoring is a prominent, practical implementation of device connectivity. There is now a range of fitness products that can be used for health care — straps to measure breathing or heart rate, for example — that will send information to a phone. That information can then be amalgamated with that from other health devices to provide a broader picture of a consumer’s health.
“The interconnectivity of devices is a key thing right now,” said Scott Robertson, co-chair of the NCPDP educational programs committee and principal technology consultant in health IT strategy and policy for Kaiser Permanente Information Technology. “That information can be forwarded from a smart phone or computer (a hub) to a caregiver, doctor or pharmacist, so if [patients are] starting to go in the wrong direction, they can get feedback quickly.”
However, Robertson sounded a note of caution. It’s worth thinking about the security of all of this data that consumers are collecting and sending, Robertson advised. It may not seem of any importance if a person’s blood-pressure readings fall into the wrong hands; but at some point, it could be very disadvantageous.