Digital healthcare is the use of technology to deliver healthcare. There are many facets of it. The paradigm of care at a distance e.g. a live interface is the most understood, whether it is the old fashioned analog phone call or that of todays Millenial who ‘get’ Skype or see video calling as a day to day reality.
This has moved to non-live uses, asynchronous, the modern version of written communication, email, videomessage, Instagram, twitter or any one of a multitude of social media.
It has progressed beyond that though to a plethora of devices, apps and cross breeds that promise to maximise your patients health, and often your practice income! Grand claims, if not ones supported by the evidence.
They have broadened the range of providers from the plain vanilla (group) therapist to the Cyber support groups; from patient information sheets, to sophisticated hyperlinked, video embedded ‘hope box’, or manual on your phone. They have changed in vivo exposure from what was limited by travel time, to what is limited by the programmers imagination.
Telemdecine can connect patients and providers worldwide – how can that not be an amazing promise, today's truly outstanding goal – tomorrow commonplace event.
The promise of near infinite data; if only we can measure enough, we can treat better, may hold true for a physical paradigm such as mobile ECG or BP monitoring, but is it true for mental health?
Science is not a door to infinite wisdom, but a rescue from unending ignorance. The evidence is that technological innovations are not a magic solution but tools widening access, they are to travel what the motorway is to the dust track. They are an equaliser in that more people can be reached than ever before–but they do not replace human skill and ability.
By December 2015, 500 million smartphone users worldwide will be estimated to be using a health care application. Yet, there is no evidence of a systematic evaluation of a fraction of these apps. They may not be snake oil salesman, but has the placebo effect graduated from molecules to ones and zero's?
We will explore the evidence to understand some of the promises and the realities of what was once Tomorrows World, here today.
Disclosure of interest
The author has not supplied his declaration of competing interest.