Apps may be giving patients more control over their managing their health by tracking data they can share with physicians, such as their vital signs, but they fall down when it comes to enabling physicians to create digital patient care plans that also track a patient’s compliance to the plan outside a clinical setting.
Patient Doctor Technologies, Inc. is remedying that shortcoming with the introduction of Doctella, a digital health studio that leverages Apple Inc.’s CareKit, an open source framework, for inexpensively developing patient-facing apps without the need for software developers or coding skills.
With Doctella, physicians can develop personalized care plans for patients to follow outside a clinical setting and that track such information as daily exercise and the amount of medications taken, which physicians can analyze to adjust the care plan as needed and improve patient outcomes.
“Digital health interventions tell patients what they need to do on a day-to-day basis and provide physicians with greater visibility into a patient’s health outside a clinical setting,” says Amer Haider, CEO of Patient Doctor Technologies Inc.
Traditionally, patient interventions outside a clinical setting took place in the form of a follow-up call from a nurse or the physician to check on a patient’s progress. “It’s an inefficient process,” Haider says.
In addition to providing physicians a better tool for managing patient care plans, Doctella removes the barriers to healthcare app adoption by empowering physicians to develop customized apps on their own.
That’s a huge plus for medical practitioners, especially small and mid-sized practices with limited information technology resources, because it removes the cost barrier to developing an app. It can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 or more, and months of development time, to create an app. In comparison, physicians can download Doctella for free and create an app in as little as 15 minutes, Haider says.
Physicians can create care plans for up to 25 patients for free. Physicians creating care plans for 26 or more patients are charged $10 per patient annually. Physicians can also purchase 40 hours of consulting services from Patient Doctor Technologies for $12,500.
Besides the low cost of entry, the ability to customize each plan on a per patient basis increases Doctella’s attractiveness because it eliminates the use of generic care plans. “Each patient has different treatment needs,” says Haider. “Providing customizable templates creates a pathway to personalized care plans.”
To create a care plan, a physician first establishes an account on the Doctella website. Next, the physician selects a template that best suits the desired care plan, such as post-surgical knee replacement. After selecting a template, a physician can customize it by creating daily instructions.
A plan for a patient coming in for a knee replacement, for example, can cover steps to be taken in preparation for the surgery, as well as afterward. Doctella templates also allow physicians to craft a series of questions that can help them chart a patient’s progress and determine if the care plan needs to be adjusted, such as the amount of pain medications taken daily, whether or not pain is decreasing and amount of exercise.
Physicians can further customize the template by adding such elements as their photo, which can help increase a patient’s comfort level when using the app, Haider says.
Once the template is customized, a link to it is sent to the patient via email, text, or their electronic health record. In addition, care plans from multiple healthcare providers can be sent to the patient and the information in those plans can be integrated. Patients can also share data with caregivers and family members. Real-time data from Apple’s HealthKit, Google Fit and cloud application programming interfaces for medical grade IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) can also be integrated.
As a patient answers the questions posed by his physician in the care plan, his answers are uploaded to the physician’s Doctella dashboard. Upon viewing the answers, physicians can adjust the care plan, in addition to the follow-up questions asked, as needed and send a new version of the plan to the patient.
Several physicians, including a surgeon, ENT-Otolaryngologist and dermatologist, use Doctella to create personal care programs. More than 200,000 digital interventions have been delivered to more than 5,000 patients, the company says.
“Digital health interventions are the key to implementing value-based care,” Haider says. “With Doctella, providers can bypass software developers to create powerful digital interventions. This empowerment will about bring the digital patient revolution we call the ‘patientization’ of health care.”
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