Doctors come in all shapes and size, specialists and locations and it is clear that we need them. Technology such as healthcare apps and wearables have the potential to be very beneficial in the future and may have the possibility to replace the need for GPs (general practitioners) but for now, the healthcare system cannot operate without them.
The Fitbit trial illustrated wearables ability to make a user more self-aware about their health and activity. However, they should be used only as a guide and not as medical equipment for clinical decisions. With that said, the data does offer a good insight into an individual’s lifestyle due to its ubiquitous monitoring ability. This can then be used as an aid when describing symptoms to the GP but GP’s role is critical. They can identify other factors displayed to form the most appropriate decision and calculate risk factors before a diagnosis can be made. You could be very worried about a symptom that you are experiencing, but when you go and talk to the GP you feel better, as they reassure you and explain the best plan of action. These are tasks that healthcare apps and wearables cannot do.
The healthcare app industry is largely unregulated to be able to use them as a trusted medical tool. Guidelines must be in place to sort through the apps and determine which ones are reliable. The data collected is thought to be secure because currently there haven’t been any publicised data breaches, but one is totally possible.
At the moment, the NHS is ‘free’ (funded by taxpayers) for all users. A set back about wearables is the costs. Not everyone can afford to buy them, so it really is easier and CHEAPER to book an appointment to visit the GP. Prevents having to set-up and learn how to use the new technology, when the GP can tell you everything that you need to known in a 15-minute appointment.
Personally, I think reading about technology potentially replacing the role of a doctor, underestimates the amount of work and effort that goes into their job. For healthcare apps and wearables to have a feasible chance of replacing GPs, much more work must be