Daily minutiae aids care, but overwhelms doctors

Smartphones enable patients to upload "observations of daily living" to physicians in order to manage chronic medical conditions, but it's clear that the medical community needs considerable technological assistance to help it deal with having this constant onslaught of patient information delivered 365 days a year.

The Wall Street Journal recently chronicled a number of efforts through which patients track their daily physical and emotional issues via smartphone. For instance, a project called Crohnology.MD enables patients with Crohn's Disease to report daily symptoms, providing data that gets charted, along with lab results and other measures, to create visual trend lines on a website that can be viewed by patient and doctor.

"It's the day-to-day experience that shapes a lot of your health, but doctors don't have that information in the medical record," says Stephen Downs, assistant vice president of the Princeton, N.J.-based Robert Wood Johnson's Health Group, which is funding Project HealthDesign, overseer of the Crohnology.MD effort.

The article claims that web-based programs can help doctors summarize reams of daily-life data delivered via mobile devices. Clearly well-designed data-collection programs are a must in order to avoid overloading physicians who already are drowning in patient information. In early 2009, a Canadian publication cited an SAS Canada survey that showed most of British Columbia's family doctors, and almost half of the province's health specialists, already feel overwhelmed by the amount of patient data they deal with daily, and that's even without having the minute details of patients' everyday lives being constantly uploaded from smartphones.

For more information:
- read this Wall Street Journal article (subscription required)
- check out this article in BIV Business Today from 2009