Connected gadgets will help patients take back their health information. Are they ready for it?

When Philippe Schwartz, president of connected device company Withings, decided to take a look at his own chart during a recent doctors visit, the staff asked him a question: “What are you doing?”

Patients are used to this kind of treatment. But why? Shouldn’t their health data be theirs?

Schwartz and Salesforce senior vice president of healthcare and life science Todd Pierce argued Tuesday at the Gigaom Structure Connect conference that yes, it is theirs, and they are in the best position ever to take it back. Connected devices are not only helping patients monitor their own help, but also changing how medical professionals go about connecting with patients for the better.

“We’re in an era where consumers can really be empowered and … not be this passive person in the healthcare journey,” Pierce said.

He described a connected inhaler that can alert a patient’s doctor when they are using it more than normal. Instead of waiting until a patient goes to the emergency room, the doctor can reach out and suggest a preemptive visit their office.

That kind of communication is currently rare. Gathering large amounts of data on patients’ health and then picking out who needs what kind of care can then determine how to best interact with patients. They may need a visit, or they might just need a call or text message.

That also calls for patients learning how to manage their own health data. Do they want to tweet their weight everyday? What if their office finds out they are not getting enough sleep? They are the same challenges we already face everyday when we weigh posting our private photos and thoughts on social media, with potentially more serious consequences.

“I think that’ll be really positive for people in their experience to be able to ask for what they need and make sure they get it,” Pierce said.

Photo credit Jakub Mosur

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