616 Are You Ready for the 2016 Patient?
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Dynamic Chiropractic – December 1, 2014, Vol. 32, Issue 23

Are You Ready for the 2016 Patient?

By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher

In October, Apple released its iOS 8 operating system for the iPhone and iPad. The new system includes Health, a new app that will interface with an ever-growing number of other apps.

(If you're not familiar, the icon for the Health app is a heart on a white background.) According to Apple:1

"The new Health app gives you an easy-to-read dashboard of your health and fitness data. And we've created a new tool for developers called HealthKit, which allows all the incredible health and fitness apps to work together, and work harder, for you. It just might be the beginning of a health revolution."

Perhaps you've already determined this information is irrelevant because you don't own an iPhone or iPad. Keep reading, because nothing could be further from the truth. The Health app is a powerful database that will allow users to track their own health information and share it with providers:

"[Y]ou can allow the data from your blood pressure app to be automatically shared with your doctor. Or allow your nutrition app to tell your fitness apps how many calories you consume each day."

You can be sure Apple didn't waste a lot of money developing an app people don't want. The makers of apps for all non-Apple devices are following suit. In fact, a survey conducted by WebMD and Medscape2 found that patients are anxious to move their relationship with their doctor into the Electronic Age. Their recent report specifically found:

  • "Patients were more likely than physicians to say that new technologies, such as smartphone apps with add-on devices, should be used in the diagnostic process." (84 percent of patients, but only 69 percent of MDs)
  • "Nearly two thirds of physicians and patients believe that when it becomes feasible to use a 'lab on a chip,' this technology should be combined with smartphone apps to do routine blood tests and send the results to physicians. ("Lab on a chip" is "a new device invented by a team of engineers and students [that] uses just a pinprick of blood in a portable device [and] provides results in less than 30 minutes. The next step will turn blood testing into a smartphone application." It was announced in January 2011.3)
  • "Significantly more patients than physicians approve of using smartphones to send data to doctors about certain physical symptoms in place of an office visit." (Survey questions inquired about using smartphones for heart rate, skin problems, eye exams and ear exams.)

The survey went on to ask about a patient's right to see their electronic health record and the notes the doctor places in that record. Ninety-six percent of patients (and an equal percentage of MDs) believe patients should be allowed to see their electronic health record. Eighty-one percent of patients (and 64 percent of MDs) believe patients have the right to see all of the notes taken by their physicians during an office visit.

All of this new technology will likely take about a year to really catch on. But given the above, let's speculate a little about what 2016 will look like for you and your patients:

  • Patients will expect transparency for all of their health information, with their electronic health record (EHR) as the primary provider information point.
  • Patients will be measuring and tracking their own health data, and will be looking to shared that information with their provider in order to keep them informed.
  • Patients will seek to utilize this technology to reduce time spent with their provider unless it is truly necessary.

So what does this mean for you? First, if you aren't using EHR software in your practice, you won't even be able to participate. That's step #1.

Second, you need to begin thinking about how the new apps will assist you in your efforts to maintain your patients' maximum health. Take some time to explore where this technology is now and where it is heading. For example, if you provide nutritional counseling, there will probably be an app that will monitor patients' blood and provide reports on their nutritional status.4

Third, begin having conversations with your patients about how the new apps will enhance your doctor-patient relationship. Show them you are engaged in the new technology (use it for yourself and share what you learn) and looking forward to implementing it as they become more comfortable.

Technology is going to dramatically change your practice. It is not unreasonable to think that in the near future a chip embedded just under the skin in the back of a patient's neck could ultimately tell them (and you) when they need to be adjusted – and even where.

Adapting to this new technology will take some effort on your end. You need to decide now to move your practice into the new health care world. You must decide if you are a doctor of the future ... or you will become a doctor of the past through inactivity.


  1. "Health: An Entirely New Way to Use Your Health and Fitness Information." Apple.com.
  2. Terry KJ, Fiore M. "Docs Willing to Share Medical Practice With Patients? Sort Of." Medscape, Sept. 22, 2014.
  3. "Lab-on-a-Chip Developed for Fast, Inexpensive Blood Tests: Smartphone App Next." Science Daily, Jan. 12, 2011.
  4. "8 Ways You'll Use Apple's iOS 8 HealthKit Every Day." Computerworld, Jun 11, 2014.

Read more findings on my blog: http://blog.toyourhealth.com/wrblog/. You can also visit me on Facebook.

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