CollaboRythm: Getting Patients More Involved in Their Own Healthcare

When we talk about smartphone healthcare we generally think of one app, or one device, or one cool little gadget.  However, the true power of improved technology in healthcare is the synchronicity that can be achieved with those devices.

Now you don’t necessarily have to go to MIT to make that connection, but conveniently, they are looking into this very topic at MIT.  The MIT Media Lab, and more specifically New Media Medicine, has a whole slew of projects in this area, but one in particular that is trying to create this harmony of technology.

CollaboRythm is a collaborative interface where doctors and patients make contributions to the patients health.  This really makes a ton of sense seeing as how both people clearly have a vested interest in the patients health.  Let’s take a look at a few of the major points of emphasis from their website.

CollaboRhythm is a technology platform that enables a new paradigm of healthcare delivery; one where patients are empowered to become active participants and where doctors and other health professionals are transformed into real-time coaches. We believe that this radical shift in thinking is necessary to dramatically reduce healthcare costs, increase quality, and improve health outcomes.

This really is a dramatic shift in thinking.  I know I generally leave my health care concerns in the hands of my doctor.  Sure I consider what I eat and how I exercise and thinks like that, but when I make trips to the doctor, I go in, do whatever they tell me to do, and then go home and go on with my life.  Unless there are pills I need to take or something like that, I really don’t think much of it.  That being said, it does make sense to get patients more involved.

Patients own their data in CollaboRhythm: everything they see in the doctor’s office is available at home, or when they visit another doctor, or change jobs, or move across the world. Just as importantly, patients can contribute data of their own, things that doctors fail to see in the face of too many lab tests: data and perceptions about social support, diet, alternative therapies, and their effect on the patient;s quality of life. (Patients and physicians disagree on the reason for an office visit nearly 50% of the time.)

There are two major points here that make this program seem even more important.  The first one being the availability of information for the patient as they go to different doctors, and maybe even more so when they move.  As someone who has moved a lot of times in my life it would have been incredibly convenient to have all my medical information more readily available.  Instead, I have probably had things repeated that were not needed simply because my old records were not available.  Think of the time and money that could be saved if everyone simply had access to their own medical history.

The last sentence also addresses an interesting issue.  I know that plenty of patients don’t always agree with their doctors, but to think that 50% of patients are not on the same page as their doctor is a little bit scary to me.  They don’t really say where they got this number, but no matter where it comes from it certainly gets you thinking.  Again, how much time and money could be saved if doctors and patients were simply on the same page.

Patients of the future will know more about their health than their doctors. They have to. By making patients active, informed participants in their own care, we believe we can reduce health care costs, increase quality, and improve health outcomes.

This pretty much sums up the crux of what they are trying to achieve with this idea.  If we as patients are able to take a more active role in our healthcare we are sure to get better results.  If our doctors can rely on us to take on some of the load that makes their jobs easier and more efficient.  Combining the two saves everyone time and money, and in the current situation, that is always a good thing.