Venture Beat recently released an article expounding on all the reasons doctors don’t want data from health wearables like Fitbit. Among those reasons? Not enough time to analyze, and no proven system to analyze it in.
One higher-up explains: “Doctors would love to be excited about wearables — they’re gadget guys at heart — but their day-to-day is spent battling 30 year old fax machines to get your last lab report.” says Jeff Tangney, CEO of Doximity, which makes a social communication platform for clinicians. “For a busy doctor, the ability to use email would save more lives than a Fitbit.”
Atlas MD’s Dr. Josh told his side of the story in an interview with The Daily Beast. His view looks completely different from that of docs who shudder at the thought of more data. He not only cares about his patient’s FitBit data, but welcomes it. He finds this information so useful, he’s integrated fitness app tracking into his EMR software (that also handles emails, in case you were wondering) to better communicate with his patients about the one thing that matters most – their health.
But why the stark difference in opinions? It’s all about time.
The docs who are forced to see 18-20 patients per day already squeeze as much as they can into their shifts. But a Direct Primary Care doc sees that same number of patients in a full _week_ and consequently has more time to turn FitBit data into something actionable.
“We don’t know what all this data means, yet,” Umbehr said, “but I can discuss it with the patients and we can both follow it.” Until now, there’s no accepted approach for incorporating this kind of data into medical care. Early adopters like Umbehr’s group may be able to figure out how this data can be used.
The DPC model of healthcare allows doctors time to give their patients more than thoughtful care, although that’s certainly the biggest perk from a patient perspective. DPC docs have the luxury to truly think things through, and as a result, they’re pushing the boundaries of how fitness data is used.